Ten years after one of the world’s most challenging car and bike races, the Dakar Rally, moved to South America, a decision has been made to bring the competition much closer to its African origins.
In a brief statement made this week, the entity that runs the competition, Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), announced the 2020 edition of the rally will be held in Saudi Arabia.
“After thirty years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America, a new chapter in the history of Dakar will be written as the world’s biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia,” ASO said in a statement.
This marks the first time the Dakar Rally will take place in the Middle East. The oil-rich country promises the event will be “an unbelievable and unforgettable experience for drivers.”
The Dakar Rally first took place in 1978 as a very tough off-road endurance event and required participants who entered with both cars and motorcycles to drive or ride from Paris, France, to the Senegal capital of Dakar. This route was taken by competitors for exactly 29 years, until 2008.
in 2008, the competition had to be canceled because of a coup d’état in Mauritania, one of the countries the original route passed through. One year later, the competition was moved to South America, but retained the Dakar name and continued there since.
The officials who made the announcement did not say if Saudi Arabia is a permanent move, but usually where Dakar goes, Dakar stays, at least for a number of years.
Next week, on April 25, ASO is scheduled to provide more details on the reasons behind the move, as well as to reveal the route and possibly even competitors.
The course of the next year’s Dakar is being planned by the competition’s director, David Castera.