- The 42nd edition of the Dakar will be held in Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, from 5 to 17 January. The rally, which began its nomadic life in Africa and then jumped to South America, has made Asia its new home.
- Jeddah, the economic heart of the country, will host the start of the rally, launching a journey of more than 9,000 kilometres to the future Qiddiya complex, not far from Riyadh, where the rest day will take place. A press conference was held in Qiddiya in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al Faisal. Among the guests, Laia Sanz, Stéphane and Andréa Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz, Giniel De Villiers, Nani Roma, Adrien Van Beveren, Joan Barreda, Sam Sunderland and, of course, local hero Yazeed Al-Rajhi have already put their names down for the race.
Come January 2020, the Dakar will make its first foray into its 30th host country, Saudi Arabia. After three decades in Africa and eleven editions held in South America, the drivers, riders and crews of the greatest rally on Earth are invited to write a new chapter of its history in the largest country in the Middle East. The lands of Saudi Arabia, extending from the Red Sea in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east, contain vast desert expanses with a mosaic of terrains and all the ingredients for a well-rounded route in line with the mentality of rally raids: rewarding competent driving and riding and speed, putting navigational skills to the test and pushing the stamina of the competitors to the limit.
Classic Dakar concepts such as adventure and discovery will feature heavily in the rally as it heads into these sparsely inhabited regions where the drivers and riders have never raced before. The uncharted terrain will make sure that none of the pretenders to the crown has a home field advantage. The mountain areas near the border with Jordan will take the competitors deep into a maze of valleys, while the dunes in the "Empty Quarter" —some of which rise to over 250 metres high— will set the stage for dune-surfers to shine.
The South American connection
Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay have hosted the Dakar for a decade. Their jaw-dropping landscapes stole the hearts of drivers, riders and TV viewers around the world, as did the warm welcome of the aficionados on the roadsides. In order to preserve the rally's links with South America, whose drivers, co-drivers and riders made up about a third of the field in 2019, a battery of measures will be taken to facilitate the shipment of vehicles and provide communication tools.
His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority “We are thrilled 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. Saudi Dakar 2020 will be a journey through breath taking scenery, unknown landscapes, unexpected challenges, untold stories and unbelievable memories. Together, Saudi Arabia & the Dakar Rally will write a new chapter and tell a new story, a story of how the greatest race on Earth and the most ambitious social mission on the planet - Vision 2030 – united to redefine the human adventure.”
David Castera, director of the Dakar “Africa, South America… and now Asia. The third chapter of its history is particularly fascinating and exciting for a race focused on exploration like the Dakar. Here, in the largest state in the region, we can let our imagination run riot with the infinite possibilities for a tough, balanced and varied course. The sporting challenge that we are putting together for the 42nd edition will tap the full potential of this vast country and its mosaic of deserts, mountains, canyons, valleys and coastal landscapes.”
Source Dakar official press release