Dakar Rally organizers say next year’s race will be held in “the deep and mysterious deserts of the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia”.
Created by Thierry Sabine after he got lost in Libyan desert in 1977, the Dakar Rally was raced across Africa until terror threats in Mauritania led organizers to cancel the 2008 edition. The rally was then held in South America.
Details of 2020 race will be announced later this week in Saudi Arabia.
Dakar Rally director David Castera says “it’s a grandiose challenge, with this blank page, with unlimited possibilities”.
“After 30 years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America, a new chapter in the history of Dakar will be written as the world’s biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia”, ASO said in a statement.
The Dakar has been held in South America since 2009. The grilling multi-stage rally was previously held in Africa but was relocated after terrorist threats in Mauritania in 2008.
Dakar Director David Catera describes the relocation to Saudi Arabia as “a voyage into the unknown”.
“Be going to Saudi Arabia, it is of course that aspect that fascinates me”, Castera said.
“I’m convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all riders, drivers and copilots. As the director of the event, it’s a massive challenge to be faced a blank page with limitless possibilities”
Castera said Saudi Arabia offered up “a monumental geography, made for the most audacious intineraries”.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Fasil, Chairman of the Saudi Gneral Sport Authority said: “The vision and guidance of our leaders have made our dreams and ambitions limitless and have set the sports scene in the Kingdom on a remarkable success route. Today we are thrilled to announce that Rally Dakar, an event with a huge global appeal is coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East for the first time”.
“Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030, of which sport is a basic pillar”.
“In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in region and around the world.”
Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Fasil added: “I have always wanted to participate in Dakar Rally. While I wasn’t fortunate to achieve that ambition. I’m now part of achieving a much bigger dream for my country as Dakar comes to the Middle East region for the first time ever”.
“The vision and support of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the trust that GSA president Prince Turki Al-Faisal had put in us were key to our efforts to secure the hosting rights for an event of such a global magnitude”.
On the sporting front, Saudi Arabia has already has recently hosted the WWE Crown Jewel, a FORMULA-E race on the streets of Riyadh and January’s Italian Super Cut between AC Milan and Juventus, while an exhibition match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in December was called off because the latter was injuried.
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