The Dakar Rally has a new home
Today the Amaury Sport Assosiation, or ASO, has revealed the next setting of the world famous Dakar Rally: The Middle East. More specifically, Saudi Arabia.
The original Paris Dakar rally finds it's origin in the Abidjan-Nice rally of 1977. There, a single motorcycle competitor got hopelessly lost and spent the following three days and nights wandering around in the African desert before getting rescued. That rider was Thierry Sabine. The man who would go on to create the iconic Paris Dakar rally.
Africa was home to a motorsport spectacle unlike any other for thirty years. Sadly, after serious terrorist threats in 2008 the event had to migrate to another continent. A worthy replacement was found in South America. Now, 11 years later, it seems that the Dakar has overstayed its welcome as the 2019 edition took place entirely in Peru. Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and others simply weren't interested anymore and/or found the whole ordeal to expensive and not worth it.
For a moment a return to Africa was predicted but alas. Saudi Arabia has stepped up to the plate.
"As the director of the event, it’s a massive challenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities. I’m already inspired and delighted to have to design a course in such a monumental geography, made for the most audacious itineraries. We are spoilt for choice. Sports, navigation, a will to surpass oneself: all these aspects will naturally be glorified on this territory made for rally-raids.” Said David Castera, Head of the Dakar
And spoilt he is. Saudi Arabia is a whopping 2,149,690 square kilometers or 830,000 square mile big and contains the majority of the Rub' al Khali desert, the biggest in the world.
More details will be revealed at a press conference on the 25th of April.