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Dakar rally to put Saudi Arabia on world stage

April 17, 2019 at 8:32 am

Motorbike in the desert during the Dakar rally [Twitter]

Saudi Arabia will be home to the most illustrious motor racing event from 2020 after they signed a deal to host the Dakar Rally.

For those new to the world of motor racing, the Dakar Rally is a BIG deal. The race has graced the motor racing calendar for close to half a century and has made a name for itself as one of the toughest races in the world. The Amaury Sport Organisation that organises the Dakar Rally has now signed a five-year deal with Saudi Arabia to host the event in the Kingdom.

The Dakar has been held in South America since 2009 and the all-consuming multi-stage, multi-day rally was previously held in Africa but was relocated after terrorist threats in Mauritania in 2008. However, according to AFP, Dakar director David Castera described the relocation to Saudi Arabia in a five-year deal as “a voyage into the unknown”.

Saudi Arabia can offer 1.4 million square miles of desert for the Dakar route and keep the race interesting across 900 kilometres.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience fordrivers as they discover the beauty of Saudi nature and a unique spectacle for motorsport fans not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the region and around the world.”

According to Castera, Saudi Arabia will be fascinating.

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“I’m convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all the riders, drivers and copilots. As the director of the event, it’s a massive challenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities.”

42nd edition of the Dakar Rally, was up for grabs after the entire rally was held in one country this year —Peru and according to Autosport, “economic uncertainty” drove the ASO to look to South Africa and the Middle East to host the rally.

Saudi Arabia is slowly but surely making a name for itself of the world sporting stage. Saudi Arabia recently hosted a WWE fight, a Formula E race and the title fights for WBA super-middleweight and World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) in Jeddah, along with the European Tour’s inaugural Saudi International in February.