New route, more technically challenging Dakar Rally promised in Saudi Arabia next year

The Dakar Rally will be returning to Saudi Arabia for a second year running, it was announced through a virtual press conference on Wednesday. (SPA/File Photo)
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Updated 12 June 2020

New route, more technically challenging Dakar Rally promised in Saudi Arabia next year

  • The organizers of the 2021 Dakar-Saudi race have promised a route that is entirely new

DUBAI: The Dakar Rally will be returning to Saudi Arabia for a second year running, it was announced through a virtual press conference on Wednesday. 

The organizers of the 2021 Dakar-Saudi race have promised a route that is entirely new, more technical and, among the dunes that will surround it from start to finish, will include stages that will test the driver’s speed and endurance.

“It is with tremendous pride that we welcome the Dakar Rally back to the kingdom in 2021,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, Minister of Sports. “It will once again be our honor to extend our renowned hospitality two all competitors, crew, fans and media taking part, as well as our now close friends and partners at the Amaury Sports Organisation.”

Last year, the Dakar Rally took place in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and indeed it was a landmark event for motor-racing in the continent.

“Hosting Dakar rally across our breathtaking natural landscape broke new ground for both Saudi Arabia as a nation and Dakar too, with it being the first time in the rally’s history to have the engines roar in Asia,” Prince Abdul Aziz said. “We always believed we had the key components needed too deliver Dakar, and we are thrilled with how amazing the rally was.

“Now as we look forward to achieving the grand ambition of the Vision 2030, making tomorrow even more beautiful is what drives us individually and as a nation,” he added. “Dakar Saudi is visionary project that comes with great challenges and opportunities. For us, the values of Dakar and the wider goals and ambitions of the Amaury Sports Organisation make them a natural partner, for both the Ministry of Sport and the Saudi Arabian Motorsports Federation, and we are delighted to be working with them again.”

Prince Abdul Aziz was keen to reiterate the importance of having such an event take place in the Kingdom.

“Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 was the greatest race our part of the world has ever seen,” he said. “It is aligned in every with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to redefine human ambition and adventure. We welcome the world and invite them to embark with us on an adventure like never before. To Saudi Arabia and the Ministry of Sport, such a challenge, like everything, will never be considered impossible. Welcome to Saudi Arabia.”

David Castera, the director of the Dakar Rally opened the conference to the backdrop of the Pyrenees mountains, where he has been finalising every aspect of the 2021 race.

“I’ve been working in it ever with my team through video conferences of course,” he said. “Like most of you, we had to adapt and work differently. Dakar is being well prepared, very well prepared. We’re on time, the course is done. Many things have advanced, and the Saudis working along us, and we’ll be ready for the month of January.”

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation expressed his pride to be hosting the race in Saudi Arabia again.

“Dakar 2020 was huge success for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Dakar,” he said. “Dakar 2020 witnessed an increase in participants from all around the world. It was a tough race, it was a thrilling 13 days. I saw personally the excitement and the satisfaction on the faces of all the drivers and the teams, and this was a big relief to us in Saudi Arabia.”

He also had a message for the drivers who will take part in 2021.

“It’s new race, it’s a new route…we’re going to take you to new parts of Saudi Arabia for you to discover, and to prove you are up to the challenge and you can compete at a very high and international level.”

Prince Khalid also highlighted the support of the government of Saudi Arabia in making Dakar 2020 such a success. 

That was the core of our achievement of 2020, and we are really looking forward to welcome you all again in Saudi Arabia and to witness a new challenge  and hopefully, inshallah, you will enjoy Dakar 2021as you enjoyed it (last year) and I promise you it will be more thrilling and exciting for you.”


Lakers roll in Game 1 of NBA finals, top Heat 116-98

Updated 15 min 9 sec ago

Lakers roll in Game 1 of NBA finals, top Heat 116-98

  • LeBron James has become the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: LeBron James finally got an easy Game 1 in the NBA Finals.
A very easy one, at that.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points in his finals debut, James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Miami Heat 116-98 on Wednesday night.
The Heat left beaten and battered.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, Danny Green had 11 and Alex Caruso finished with 10 for the Lakers. They returned to the finals for the first time in a decade and sent a very clear message. James’ teams had been 1-8 in Game 1 of past finals, with losses in each of the last seven openers.
Not this one.
“We kind of picked it up on both ends of the floor,” Davis said.
Jimmy Butler fought through a twisted left ankle to score 23 points for Miami. The Heat lost point guard Goran Dragic at halftime to a left foot injury and saw All-Star center Bam Adebayo leave in the third quarter after apparently aggravating a left shoulder problem.
Kendrick Nunn scored 18 points for the Heat, Tyler Herro had 14 and Jae Crowder 12. Adebayo was held to eight points in 21 minutes, and Miami went with subs for a fourth-quarter burst that turned a total rout into something only slightly more palatable in terms of final margin.
Game 2 is Friday night.
The Lakers did whatever they wanted. They outrebounded Miami 54-36, led by as many as 32 points, and made 15 3-pointers — a big number for a team that doesn’t necessarily count on piling up that many points from beyond the arc. They’re 21-3 this season when making at least 14 3s.

Miami Heat's Jae Crowder, right, tries to grab the loose ball as Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard (39) rolls on the floor during the first half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals on Sept. 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The only stretch that provided hope for Miami came in the first six minutes. The Heat scored on six consecutive possessions in what became a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead midway through the opening period.
So, the first six minutes were fine for Miami.
Everything else was all Lakers.
The simplest way to sum up what happened over the rest of the opening half is this: Lakers 55, Heat 25. The Lakers came into Game 1 ranked 21st out of the 22 teams that spent time in the bubble from 3-point range, making only 33.6% of their tries from deep at Disney. They were the only team in the postseason to have two games shooting less than 25% on 3s.
Perhaps they were due. The Lakers went 9-for-11 on 3’s in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Of the nine Lakers who played in the first two quarters, eight tried a 3-pointer — and all eight made at least one.
They closed the first quarter on a 19-3 run. Herro banked in a 3 from a sharp angle for a 43-41 Miami lead with 7:33 left in the half, and then the Lakers took off again, this time on a 24-5 burst to go into the break with a 65-48 lead.
And if things weren’t already bad enough for Miami, the Heat determined at the half that Dragic — playing in his first finals game — couldn’t keep going in Game 1 because of a left foot injury.
The Lakers started the third on another run, this one 18-3, and the rout was officially underway.

TIP-INS
Heat: Butler turned his left ankle in the final seconds of the first half, remained in the game and started the second half. ... It was the 19th time that Miami lost a game this season after leading by double digits at some point.
Lakers: The Lakers improved to 17-15 in Game 1s of title series. ... Davis was 10 for 10 from the foul line, plus added nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

JAMES’ RECORDS
The NBA Finals record book is basically a James scrapbook of career achievements, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday. He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.


FAMILIAR SPOT
The Heat fell to 1-5 in Game 1 of title series. All three of Miami’s championships have come after dropping the opener.