The reasons why the Dakar Rally moves to the Middle East
Why Middle East?
Since already announced, the Dakar rally moves from South America to Saudi Arabia. On April 25, organizers announced some details regarding the future race.
To remind, the most difficult rally in the world is named after the capital of Senegal. From 1979 to 2007, this motorized marathon, organized by French enthusiasts, it was held in Africa and was generally completed in Dakar. However, in 2008, the competition had to be canceled, literally days before the start because of terrorist threats. As a result, ASO promoters were forced to search for a new location.
Since 2009, South America has hosted the Dakar Rally. At 11, rally drove in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. However, over time, dark clouds began to rise over the South American edition. Despite the fact that Dakar remains number one in the world of rally racing, the number of participants from Europe has been reduced due to expensive logistics and South American governments have become increasingly reluctant to pay ASO the rights to hold a multi-million dollar race. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that ASO eventually signed a multi-year contract with Saudi Arabia.
They may not be "champions" when it comes to humanity and human rights, but that is why the Saudis don't lack money, and they proverbially love the racing world. Last year, the Race of Champions was held in Riyadh, as well as the Formula E Championship race.
Also, the Saudis have some good drivers, let's mention Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who won the 2018 Russian Silk Road Marathon. The terrain is certainly not lacking, given that Saudi Arabia is the 13th country in the world, and there are not only endless deserts in its territory but also mountainous areas.
Thus, the 42nd edition of Dakar will take place from January 5-17, 2020 in Saudi Arabia. The start will be in Jeddah, then in 12 stages competitors will have to travel as much as 9,000 kilometers. The day of rest is scheduled for January 11 in Riyadh, and the race ends in Al Qiddiya.
The move of the Dakar Rally from South America to the Middle East has already been welcomed by most factory team leaders. Some of them, such as Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Nani Roma, personally attended a news conference in Al-Qiddiya.
Leaving the sport aspect aside, financially this will be much more acceptable to Europeans. The logistics for the delivery of equipment has been simplified, which no longer has to be sent to race as early as November, and teams will also make considerable savings on airline tickets. Because of all the above, it is expected more participation than ever.