The “Dakar” breathed new life”! Legendary marathon moved to Saudi Arabia

Active registration on the legendary rally-RAID “Dakar”, which from next year will be held in Saudi Arabia. What is moving, what can we expect and how the participants perceived the news? “Soviet sport” – about the move of the marathon to the Arabian Peninsula.




In 41 years of existence of the “Dakar” this marathon has become legendary. Actually, from the first years of the he has already aroused great interest among the participants and the fans. Thierry Sabine, lost chance in the Libyan desert in far 1977, and awaiting rescue who invented the rally “Paris-Dakar” (found it three days later, the Tuareg – in a state of exhaustion and dehydration, but still alive), got to the point: interesting route, interesting concept, strong drivers and teams, many classes (motorcycles, trucks, SUVs) – all contributed to the huge popularity of the race. Which has been growing from year to year exponentially.

Since then much has changed – equipment has become more and more perfect, grew the skills of the participants, the budgets of the teams. Tried out different routes. The rally could start in Clermont-Ferrand, Marseilles, Barcelona and Lisbon. Could finish in Sharm El Sheikh or Cairo. There was even a circular “race” – Paris-Dakar-Paris (2003). Was a March across Africa – Paris-Cape town (in 1992). But the main thing remained unchanged – most of the marathon took place on the territory of the Black continent, in different countries. And most of the time the finish line was still in the Senegalese capital, and therefore established a familiar title – “Dakar”.

In 2008, the rally did not take place. The Mauritanian authorities recognized that they can not guarantee the safety of participants from the actions of members of terrorist groups on its territory. And in General, the situation in West Africa was the most peaceful. Out of fear of terrorist attacks, organizers decided to cancel the marathon in just a few days before the start. And in 2009, the famous Dakar rally moved to South America.

Here he ordered another 11 years. And if at first such changes have aroused great enthusiasm among participants and fans (though it looked strange – what is this “Dakar” the Dakar?), then gradually began to have problems. Popularity among local viewers has been steadily falling. The cost of logistics teams has reached exorbitant proportions (try to get there from Europe, all over the world with trucks, machinery, necessary equipment, etc., etc.!). To send equipment ferries had for a month or two before the start of the race, which influenced the preparation process. And the interest of the host countries began to fade, again – from-for serious expenses. In the end this year for the first time in the history of “Dakar” was held on the territory of only one country – Peru. The route included the only 10 stages. Popularity is not earned. And it became clear something needs to change radically. For example – to say goodbye to America.


In the end, in April it became known that from next year the legendary “Dakar” will move to Saudi Arabia. And this decision seems to be beneficial to either side, however you look at it!

In Saudi Arabia now implemented an ambitious programme of transformation Vision 2030 which affect the most diverse spheres of life of Saudi society, including the rapidly developing sport, there is a focus on hosting major sporting events. A passion for speed and racing among the local population, as they say, blood! It also has its stars – so, the Saudi Yazeed al-Rajhi in 2018, won the prestigious marathon “silk road”, and in the main class in the classification of SUVs. Previously Saudi Arabia has hosted the Race of Champions and the championship, “Formula E”. We are currently in active negotiations on the organization of the Grand Prix “Formula-1”. A “Dakar” will be kept here for at least five years.

In addition, the size of the country (Saudi Arabia – 12th for the state of the planet) allows you to develop long and varied route, and the Sands and terrain of the Arabian desert are promised interesting and challenging, and varied race. Finally, to get to the Peninsula much closer and more convenient for most teams and drivers, than to South America – in fact the lion’s share of participants are based in Europe. Problems with the organization and financing of the rally-RAID to occur should not the money in Saudi Arabia is, and spend wisely them here too.

The route of the “Dakar”-2020 already known. The race starts on 5 January in Jeddah and finishes on January 17 in Kiddie. The riders, incidentally, will pass through the territory of the future mega-city of NEOM, futuristic large-scale projects worth $ 500 billion. Rest day scheduled for the 11th number in the capital Riyadh. All participants will overcome more than 9000 km, the fact Saudi Arabia is the 30th country on which territory will take place “Dakar”. And the second time in a row, the marathon will take place on the territory of one state. However, if in the case of Peru this was a necessary measure (Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina refused to participate in the organization of the rally-RAID), now simply there is no need to involve neighbors, members, and so will cross almost the entire Peninsula from North to South and from East to West – from the red sea to the Persian Gulf.


The teams and drivers have already said that glad such a change.

– It is obvious that in recent years “the Dakar” weakened, – said the founder of the team “KAMAZ-Master” Simeon Yakubov. – Reduced the number of participants, the road became less interesting. There were fears that the marathon is just close. Many pall South America, and something had to change. Moving to Saudi Arabia will breathe a new life marathon. This country unknown to many and it will be interesting to visit. There are a lot of exotic places, a lot of sand. And I’m sure that the “Dakar” will be held at the highest level.

– Development of the geography of the marathon all interesting, – agreed with him and the current Director of the Russian team, seven-time champion “Dakar” Vladimir Chagin. – Experience from the organizers of “Dakar” is enormous, so any problems will not be. But drivers and teams will get an interesting new challenge. I have never been to Saudi Arabia, but I was there with her in the UAE and Egypt. There is a very good landscape and it is really possible to consider difficult, but interesting route.

– I am very happy that the Dakar has moved to Saudi Arabia, confessed and Sergey Karjakin, the champion of “Dakar”-2017 in the classification of ATVs. – Somewhere in his soul there was a feeling that the legendary marathon closer to Russia… the move Itself in this country – it is new emotions, places and areas that you really want to explore. And who doesn’t love sports and travel? Saudi Arabia will provide such an opportunity. Sure, the race will become more interesting.

source: “Soviet sport”