Official: the Dakar will be in Saudi Arabia after 11 years in America

It will be the first edition that will be held in Asia and the second consecutive one that will have only one country as a stage.

The next edition of the Dakar rally will be held in the desert of Saudi Arabia, after eleven editions in the Americas Latina and thirty in Africa, the organizers said Monday in a statement. It will be the first edition to be played in Asia and the second consecutive one that will have only one country as the scenario. For weeks now he had been speculating that the Dakar would find a new scenario in the Middle East, after the different countries of Latin America were unmarked by the most important stage rally in the world.

The last edition was completely disputed in Peru, which posed a high risk for the organizers, since any problem could force them to suspend the race.

Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and, finally Argentina, were giving paulatinamente a step back by various details, after having been the scene of the rally from 2009, a year after the fateful edition that had to be suspended because of the terrorist risk that Weighed on the traditional countries that hosted it in Africa.

First fell Chile in 2015, after the natural disasters suffered, and this year it was Argentina which withdrew alleging budgetary problems. Bolivia, which had been consolidated in recent editions as a reliable partner, also said no to the 2019. " The resignations of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina have led us to be more active in the search of other countries. I can not know how It will be the economy of these countries within a year and the Dakar has the responsibility of organizing a quality race, "said the race's director Etienne Lavigne, who was replaced by David Castera.

Among the options they had on the table, in addition to Saudi Arabia, it included Angola or South Africa. But finally they have opted for the country of the Persian Gulf, where, according to Castera, they found "a monumental geography conducive to search for daring itineraries". "Sports, navigation, personal improvement ... will be magnified in these territories made for a rally by stages," he said.

The organizers aspire to find in the Arabian desert " gigantescas and virgins extensions that constitute a unique framework to test their will, his qualities of piloting and his skills for navigation ".

The president of the Saudi Sports Authority, Abdulaziz bin Turki al Faisal al Saud, recalled that sport is part of the kingdom's opening strategy and, in that sense, pointed out that the reception of the Dakar is an important pillar.

"We want to offer the Dakar an incredible and unforgettable experience for its pilots, who will discover the beauty of the Saudi nature while producing a unique spectacle for all fans of mechanical sports", He added.

The President of the Saudi Motor Federation, Khalid bi n Sultan Abdala al Faisal, highlighted the support for this project by the heir, Mohamed bin Salman, "key to obtaining the rights to organize such an event" .

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