The Dakar Rally is changing venues once again, jumping back across the ocean to go off-road racing in Saudi Arabia.
The event began as the Paris to Dakar rally 40 years ago, and the race stayed in Africa for 30 years. 11 years ago it was moved to South America after terrorist attack threats proved too dangerous for the race to continue in Africa.
This marks a brand new chapter in Dakar history, running in a middle eastern country for the first time. Details on the race are still unknown, but Dakar says that more will be announced on April 25, 2019.
“The vision and guidance of our leaders have made our dreams and ambitions limitless and have set the sports scene in the Kingdom on a remarkable success route,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal Al Saud, Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority. “Today we are thrilled to announce 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. Our country is extremely passionate about sport and our strategic goal is to feed that appetite as we move further towards achieving Vision 2030, of which sport is a basic pillar.”In hosting Dakar Rally we aim to produce an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers 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.”
Saudi Arabia certainly has more than enough desert landscape to keep the racers occupied, and this race into an unknown territory should make for an exciting outcome next year.
“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,” said David Castera, Director of the Dakar. “By going to Saudi Arabia, it is of course that aspect that fascinates me. 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 chalenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities.”
Make sure you come back to the website on April 25 when more details are revealed on the race.