How to watch the 2021 Dakar Rally on NBCSN: Start times, stages, schedules, race info

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With an American champion returning to defend his championship for the first time, here all the TV and schedule information you’ll need for following the 2021 Dakar Rally.

For the second consecutive year, the off-road rally raid classic will be held in Saudi Arabia, where the course will cover 12 days and more than 3,000 miles. There are more than 500 drivers and riders on the entry list for the event, whose divisions include motorbikes, cars, lightweights and trucks.

California native Ricky Brabec will be among the favorites in bikes after becoming the first American to win the Dakar Rally last year (Casey Currie also was a U.S. champion last year but isn’t racing the event in 2021).

Andrew Short also should be a contender after moving to the Yamaha team.

In the overall car class, three-time Dakar winner Carlos Sainz is back to defend his crown against a field that includes Nasser Al Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel.

Here is the schedule for watching same-day coverage of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN:

Date Coverage Time (ET)
Sun., Jan. 3 Stage 1 – Jeddah to Bisha 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 4 Stage 2 – Bisha to Wadi Al Dawasir 6:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 5 Stage 3 – Wadi Al Dawasir Loop Stage 6:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 6 Stage 4 – Wadi Al Dawasir to Riyadh 6:30 p.m.
Thurs., Jan. 7 Stage 5 – Riyadh to Buraydah 6:30 p.m.
Fri., January 8 Stage 6 – Buraydah to Ha’il 6:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 9 Rest Day 11 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 10 Stage 7 – Ha’il to Sakaka 6:30 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 11 Stage 8 – Sakaka to Neom 6:30 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 12 Stage 9 – Neom Loop Stage 6:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 13 Stage 10 – Neom to Al- ‘Ula 2:30 a.m.
Thurs., Jan. 14 Stage 11 – Al- ‘Ula to Yanbu 9:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 15 Stage 12 – Yanbu to Jeddah 6 p.m.

STAGE INFORMATION

Competitors will race Jan. 2 in a 129-kilometer Prologue to determine the starting order. The race will begin Jan. 3 with a rest day Jan. 9 and the conclusion on Jan. 15.

Here are the daily distances (total/special):

Stage 1: 623/277 kilometers; held entirely on tracks through valleys with stony pathways a hazard for tires

Stage 2: 685/457 km; yellow and white dunes

Stage 3: 629/403 km; pure desert near the gateway to the famous “Empty Quarter”

Stage 4: 813/337 km; winding tracks comprise the longest stage

Stage 5: 662/456 km; difficult dunes section will slow the pace

Stage 6: 618/448 km; a variety of smooth and sandy dunes

Stage 7: 737/471 km; sand mountains and stony plateaus

Stage 8: 709/375 km; some majestic landscapes

Stage 9: 579/465 km; a stretch along the shore of the Red Sea

Stage 10: 583/342 km; hills lead to gorgeous vistas

Stage 11: 557/511 km; dunes return

Stage 12: 452/225 km; more dunes as the rally returns to its start in Jeddah


NEW RULES

Roadbook distribution: The maps will be handed out 10 minutes (for cars) or 20 minutes (motorbikes) ahead of the starts.

Increased warning/slow zones: Competitors will face new speed limits in some hazardous areas, which also will have greater notification

Tire management: Bike riders will be limited to six rear tires over 12 stages

Airbag vests: The safety devices are mandatory for motorbike and quad competitors.

Work restrictions: Piston changes will incur increased penalties for riders, who also will be precluded from tinkering on bikes while at 15-minute refueling stations.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”