RIYADH: The desert of Saudi Arabia is ready to be in action mode with all equipment and logistics in place ahead of the launch of Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020, which takes place in Asia for the first time and begins on Jan. 5.
With less than 10 days to go until the attention of motorsport enthusiasts turns to the world’s most challenging race, organizers of Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will be deploying 10 helicopters, 10 buses, 60 medical officers and 50 freight trucks to ensure a safe and seamless experience for 556 pilots competing in the 7500-km race.
Prince Khalid bin Sultan, president of the Saudi Arabian Motorsport Federation, said: “We have worked tirelessly over the past months and weeks with passion driven by commitment to succeed, in order to deliver to the Kingdom and the world this historic event that not only boosts the sporting sector in the country but has a positive impact on the cultural and entertainment fronts as well.”
Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will feature pilots from 62 countries, including 47 Legends who took on the Dakar challenge at least 10 times in their careers. The Kingdom’s desert will also be the stage for the first Dakar venture of 85 competitors.
Throughout 42 editions of the tough race, Rally Dakar has passed through three European countries, 21 African countries and another five in South America. Saudi Arabia will be the 30th country to host the rally as its uncharted desert, unique terrain and unrivalled nature strive to write Chapter 3 of the history of Dakar.
Motorsport fans will be able to enjoy comprehensive coverage and follow the race through 12 hours of daily TV content and 1,200 hours of coverage over 13 days via 70 TV channels, allowing more than 50 million followers a chance to live the Dakar experience in 190 countries.
Extending over a total distance of 7,856 kilometers, rally pilots must navigate their way through 5,097 kilometers of special off-road sections, the longest in the history of the Dakar Rally. The race gets underway in Jeddah before drivers and crews navigate their way through the fast and winding dunes and stones for 752km.
The challenge continues up north along the coast for nearly 900km through the Red Sea Project till it reaches the futuristic megacity of Neom, where the marvellous journey reaches its highest point at an altitude of 1,400 meters amid a series of canyons and mountains.
A combination of sandy stretches and gravel await Dakar’s thrill-seeking pilots as they cruise next through 676km of the formidable trip from Neom to Al Ula in Dakar’s fourth stage, before the sandy hills of Hail put the navigation skills of competitors to the test while descending south onto Riyadh.
A rest day in the capital will be followed by the rally’s longest stage of 741km, as the route takes a turn to the west in the center of the Kingdom’s enormous desert before looping 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.
Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will see pilots drive specially modified vehicles, trucks, quad, SxS, and motorbikes, designed to handle 12 stages of various challenging terrains of the vast Saudi desert.