2020 Dakar Rally to be held in Saudi Arabia

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, April 18: Dakar Rally, the most gruelling off-road races of all times will switch from South America to Middle East for the first time with Saudi Arabia all set to host the 2020 edition.

A formal FIA announcement along with the plan for the 2020 Dakar Rally will be made on April 25 in Al Qiddiya, Riyadh.

Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah is the defending Dakar Rally champion. The Toyota driver along with his French navigator Matthieu Baumel had clinched his third Dakar crown in January this year in Peru with a 46-minute cushion over Spaniard Nani Roma.

The FIA-sanctioned world's toughest off road rally had been held in South America for the past one decade and the continent had staged the event 11 years in all.

Previously it was held in Africa for 30 long years.

Talking about the decision to move it to Middle East, Dakar Director, David Castera said, "Looking back at my first memories of the Dakar and my first experiences as a competitor, I've always considered that this rally like no other carried a concept of discovery, a voyage into the unknown.

"By going to Saudi Arabia, it's, of course, that aspect that fascinates me. I'm convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all the riders, drivers and co-drivers. As the director of the event, it's a massive challenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities," Castera added.

Saudi Arabian Motor Federation Chairman Prince Khalid bin Sultan Abdullah Al Faisal was excited at the prospect of hosting the first Dakar Rally in the Middle East region.

"I've 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."

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