Reading the Roadbook: A Year of International Rally Raid in Photos

2021 saw a worldwide return to rally raid racing, which meant competitors in the SSV brought renewed hunger to win.

Polaris made its first appearance at the famed Dakar Rally in 2021, fielding two race-ready UTVs built specifically to tackle the terrain in Saudi Arabia.Justin W. Coffey

International cross-country rally racing is unlike any other motorsport. Navigating far-flung places at speed with just a scroll of paper is a challenge that few accept, and even fewer excel at. And while the global pandemic stopped most motorsport events worldwide in 2020, rally raid events bounced back in 2021, with organizations from the FIA to private entities hosting races that crossed multiple borders and new landscapes, arduous challenges, and required cultural immersion not found in many other forms of motorsport. With the gates opened again for off-road racing, the UTV world made its presence known at events like the Silk Way Rally, Dakar, Sonora Rally, and the Kalahari Rally. We collected a big gallery of pictures from our time at the events this year, so sit back and enjoy a visual feast.

The Queen of Baja, Kristen Matlock was one of the two drivers chosen by Polaris to compete at the 2021 Dakar Rally. The other was her husband, Wayne Matlock.Justin W. Coffey
Shakedown at the 2021 Dakar Rally with the Polaris RZR Factory Racing Team provided an opportunity to see whether their UTV could withstand the grueling race.Justin W. Coffey
The sand dunes of Saudi Arabia are an obstacle unlike any other. One wrong step can send a UTV tumbling down the face, ending a racer's chances of finishing, or worse.Justin W. Coffey
American Austin Jones competed in the 2021 edition of the Dakar Rally in his rally-prepped Can-Am X3. He would ultimately finish second in the SSV class.Justin W. Coffey
The Polaris Xtreme Plus team came out in force for the 2021 Dakar Rally, with more than 10 UTVs under its tent.Justin W. Coffey
Rain and sand don't mix well at Dakar, leaving racers to challenge the dunes with gray skies overhead and wet sand beneath their tires.Justin W. Coffey
Built to battle for nearly two weeks of off-road racing in the harshest terrain. This is what a UTV designed for Dakar looks like!Justin W. Coffey
Wayne Matlock would go on to finish 12th in the SSV class in his Polaris RZR Factory Racing UTV, after overcoming numerous mechanical issues.Justin W. Coffey
New to the Polaris brand, Casey Currie competed in the 2021 Sonora Rally in his custom-built Pro XP. Unfortunately he did not finish the race.Justin W. Coffey
Motorcycle racer turned UTV racer Max Eddy Jr. battled it out with Wayne Matlock at the 2021 Sonora Rally in his Polaris RS1.Justin W. Coffey
Jim Price had his daughter Sienna as his co-driver for the 2021 Sonora, bringing a new generation into the world of international cross-country rally racing.Justin W. Coffey
The dunes of the Sonoran Desert are the largest in North America, and are a perfect place for racers to prepare for events such as the Dakar Rally. Max Eddy Jr. seen here tackling the landscape in his Polaris RS1.Justin W. Coffey
The 2021 Silk Way Rally began in Omsk, Russia, and provided racers the opportunity to test their skills against the Siberian wilderness.Justin W. Coffey
Rally raid is more than just a motorsport event, it's a direct connection to the culture and people of the countries it crosses. In this case, a small village in Siberia.Justin W. Coffey
Making their presence known, the Polaris Xtreme Plus team brought a handful of UTVs to compete in the 2021 edition of the Silk Way Rally.Justin W. Coffey
Epic landscapes are par for the course when racing in an international rally. The border between Russia and Mongolia was just a stone's throw from where this photo was taken.Justin W. Coffey
The 2021 Silk Way Rally was cut short due to unforeseen circumstances, but that didn't stop the SSV class from battling it out for six days across the Siberian wilderness.Justin W. Coffey
Sometimes, the best route to the next waypoint isn't always the easiest. Not pictured, a Kamaz race truck that had broken an axle and was blocking the road.Justin W. Coffey
The Kalahari Rally is the only Road to Dakar event in Southern Africa, offering local racers the opportunity to win a free entry to the Dakar Rally.Justin W. Coffey
The Angola Rally Team took home second place at the 2021 Kalahari Rally, finishing the final stage with only three wheels on their Can-Am.Justin W. Coffey
Ultimately, rally raid events are more than just motorsport. The people, the places, the food, and the fun that these events provide are unrivaled in racing.Justin W. Coffey