the greatest motor race in the world
Having started back in 1979 with an ambitious event from the Eiffel Tower in Paris all the way through the Sahara desert to Dakar in Senegal, the rally soon became known as the world’s most enduring motorsport event, something that it remains to this day.
Following 29 rallies in Africa the rally moved to the heights of the world’s driest place, the Atacama Desert in Chile, South America for 11 events before exploring the vast open deserts of Saudi Arabia from 2020.
To be competitive on the Dakar Rally is a huge undertaking in whichever of the six categories competitors chose to be in due to the massive distances involved on a daily basis through some of the most stunning but inhospitable places on earth. However, the rewards are massive from a sporting and technical perspective knowing that to even finish is a massive achievement while to win stages and the rally outright is one of the pinnacles of the sporting world similar to climbing Everest, winning Le Mans, the World Cup or the Olympic Marathon.
The final word may well go to the Dakar’s creator, Thierry Sabine who said the rally was: "A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind."
For its third running in Saudi Arabia the rally started in Jeddah and then headed to Ha'il around the east before heading back into the Empty Quarter in the centre of the country via the capital Riyadh and then towards the finish in Jeddah. The route contained vast stretches of sand dunes that will once again tested the cars, drivers and teams.
Made up of 13 stages the route was a closely guarded secret by the organisers to add to the difficulty and to prevent any pre-running.
The organisers created the near 8,500km long route with rough tracks, dunes, navigational way points for the crews to hit all during long days and in extreme heat to make the Dakar the most demanding rally in the world.