Saudi desert gears up for first Dakar rally in Asia

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The event will see pilots drive specially modified vehicles, quads, SxS and motorbikes, designed to handle the 12 stages of the varied, challenging terrains. Supplied
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The race will start in Jeddah and will end in Qiddiya, Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 December 2019

Saudi desert gears up for first Dakar rally in Asia

  • Taking place from January 5 to 17, the 7500-kilometer adventure will be hosted in Asia for the first time
  • The race will start in Jeddah and will end in Qiddiya, Riyadh

RIYADH: There are only three weeks to go until Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 starts in Jeddah.

It will be the first time this adventurous race comes to Asia, where Saudi Arabia’s desert will play host to the 7,500-km-long rally over 13 days of action and 12 stages of challenging navigation.

Taking place from Jan. 5-17, the first edition of the rally will see more than 550 drivers from 62 nations explore the vast and formidable desert terrains of the Kingdom.

 

“We were really excited by the beautiful landscape. The deserts were exactly what we expected with their dunes, nice mountains and small canyons. We have some stages along the sea also, so it will be a mixed landscape, which is very interesting,” 13-time Dakar Rally winner Stéphane Peterhansel said.

 

“Saudi Arabia is a big country, so there are a lot of possibilities. It has many deserts, which makes it the perfect place to organize Dakar,” the French driver added.

Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 gets underway in Jeddah before drivers and crews navigate their way through the winding dunes for 752 km.

The challenge will continue up north along the coast for nearly 900 km through the Red Sea Project until the futuristic megacity of Neom, where the journey will reach its highest point at an altitude of 1,400 meters amid a series of canyons and mountains.

FASTFACT

Taking place from Jan. 5-17, the first edition of the rally will see more than 550 drivers from 62 nations explore the vast and formidable desert terrains of the Kingdom.

More than 550 drivers from 62 countries will participate in the 12-stage race, which runs from Jan. 5-17. 

 

A combination of sandy stretches and gravel await Dakar’s thrill-seeking competitors as they cruise through the next 676 km from Neom to AlUla in Dakar’s fourth stage, before the sandy hills of Hail put the navigation skills of competitors to the test as they descend south onto Riyadh.

A rest day in the capital will be followed by Dakar Saudi Arabia’s longest stage — 741 km — as the route takes a turn west to the center of the Kingdom’s enormous desert.

The course will then loop back toward Haradh in the eastern governorate of Al-Ahsa, marking the entrance to the Empty Quarter and building up to the grand finale in the future entertainment, sports and cultural destination of Qiddiya, where the winner will be crowned on the final podium.




The race will take place from January 5 to 17. (Supplied)

“Saudi Arabia is a very big country, and you can find almost every type of terrain in it,” Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi said.

Spanish rally driver Carlos Sainz added: “I think everyone finds it very exciting. It seems to be really what Dakar needs, and we are hoping to enjoy it and have a good race.”

The Saudi Federation of Automobiles and Motorcycles officially confirmed route details of the rally at an international press conference in Paris. 

Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will see pilots drive specially modified vehicles, trucks, quads, SxS (four-wheel drive, off-road vehicles) and motorbikes, designed to handle the 12 stages of the varied, challenging terrains.


Zidane urges Real Madrid to come out fighting against Barca

Ferencvaros’ midfielders Eldar Civic and Aissa Laidouni challenge Barcelona’s forward Lionel Messi during a recent football match. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 October 2020

Zidane urges Real Madrid to come out fighting against Barca

  • Defiant coach: Players must show their character and quality at Saturday’s match

MADRID: Zinedine Zidane says he has the full support of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and has called on his players to turn their season around by beating Barcelona on Saturday.

Madrid and their coach head to Camp Nou under pressure after consecutive defeats to Cadiz in La Liga and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
Asked on Friday if he still feels the backing of the club and president, Zidane said: “Yes, from everyone. I have won many things with these players and I will always be with them to the death. I will always be with them.
“But we have to change our momentum, we have had two difficult games, and that’s what this is all about. There are always bad moments but there are those teams in those moments that show their character and quality. We have to do that tomorrow.”
Zidane said Sergio Ramos will be available to face Barcelona after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of the loss to Shakhtar on Wednesday.
“Sergio is our captain, our leader,” said Zidane. “He’s recovered, he’s going to be with us. It’s about being 100 percent though and I think that Sergio is already there.”
Barcelona are also coming into the Clasico on the back of a loss in the league, although they responded to the 1-0 defeat by Getafe last weekend by winning 5-1 at home to Ferencvaros on Tuesday in the Champions League.
“In theory, both teams are under a lot of pressure,” said Ronald Koeman, who will be taking charge of his first Clasico as Barcelona coach.
“Maybe in the last couple of weeks Madrid haven’t been at their level but this doesn’t mean that they are a bad team.
“They are a big team, with experienced players, who know how to cope with the pressure, and they will want more than anyone to win this match after their two defeats.”
“I don’t expect a vulnerable Madrid, I expect the opposite,” Koeman added.
There are doubts over Antoine Griezmann, who stayed on the bench for Barca’s victory in midweek.
It was not clear whether the Frenchman had been dropped or rested. “He has a chance to play,” said Koeman.
“But it’s not good to discuss his role for every game.”
Jordi Alba has been included in the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury but it remains to be seen if the left-back is deemed ready to start.
“Always the last word is with the player,” said Koeman. “If there’s no reaction he has a good chance of playing tomorrow.”