JEDDAH: As the Saudi participants are getting their journeys in Dakar Rally underway, Saudi quad driver Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi spoke to Arab News about his prospects.
“It’s the first time I have participated in the Dakar, I hope it will be an amazing experience. I’ve been wishing to participate in the rally for ten years now.”
He said driving in the rally was one of his goals in 2020.
“Whenever the new year comes around, I write down all my goals for the year and Dakar is one of them. It’s every motorist’s and biker’s dream to participate in Dakar.
“Three years ago, I made a promise to myself that in 2020 I would participate in Dakar no matter where it takes place. And interestingly enough, it is taking place in the Kingdom. When I heard this, I had to participate, no matter what.”
#WATCH: The @dakar Rally route moves to the Middle East deserts from South America as the grueling off-road endurance race makes its debut in #SaudiArabia. For more updates, follow our coverage: https://t.co/YHyCRxhrEX #Dakar2020 pic.twitter.com/pybg0rhfAX
— Arab News (@arabnews) January 6, 2020
Al-Khulaifi said that half his dream had come true by just participating in the rally. “The other half would be reaching Qiddiya. I don’t even want a podium, I just want to challenge myself through this sport.”
It took him years to prepare for the event.
“In 2013, I decided to take part in a motocross or rally, and narrowed the choice down to rallies. I stopped all other motorsports and focused on rallies to gain more experience.
“In the Kingdom, I’m very experienced in quads. Three months ago, I participated in a championship in the Eastern Province and won first place in quads and second place in the overall ranking.
“There are many amazing bikers in the Kingdom being discovered now. I also participated in championships in the Gulf; UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain. My experience taught me so much, I learned everything through my participation in such events.”
Al-Khulaifi didn’t believe the news that the Dakar Rally is taking place in the Kingdom until Saudi rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi confirmed it.
“I couldn’t sleep when I heard the news. Any championship I ever participated in the Kingdom was to prepare myself for Dakar. It is a dream come true and I have my family and loved ones with me and supporting me all the way.”
He added: “I do feel pressured because I’m a topic on Twitter and I’m receiving great support online. I want to give it my best.
“It’s very interesting to have world champions reading about me, too. One of them was asking me about the topographies on day one and two. I have driven in AlUla before and it’s nice to be familiar with the area and know what to expect. I can differentiate between the types of sand in certain areas too.”
He also talked about the psychological aspect in the challenges of the rally.
“Imagine being alone in the desert for five hours, you are the racer, the mechanic, everything. I’ve gotten used to being alone. I participate in rallies on a monthly basis and work out regularly practicing cross-fit. Cross-fit has played a role in my motorsport journey as it taught me patience and endurance. The two sports have similarities, grip, controlling your breathing, they have the same atmosphere and I try to maintain this atmosphere and mindset.”