Multiple rumors and reports are suggesting that the Dakar Rally will be headed to Saudi Arabia next year, with the iconic rally raid signing a five-year deal with the Arabian country.
This news will mean that the Dakar Rally will leave South America after 11 years, when the race moved from Africa amongst concerns of terrorism.
For this move, the writing has certainly been on the wall though. The 2019 edition of the Dakar Rally was the first time ever that the race was held in a single country (Peru), as support for the race in South America dwindled.
While there had been talk of bringing the Dakar Rally back to Africa, it is said that the money paid by Saudi Arabia more than sealed the deal for a move to the Middle East.
The Arabian country has been keen to have its borders be a home to motorsport, with Saudi Arabia also hosting a round of the Formula E Championship, as well as the FIA-backed Middle East Rally Championship.
For the 2020 edition, the Dakar Rally will take place solely in Saudi Arabia, but future editions could see the race extend into other countries like Oman, Jordan or Egypt.
There is of course talk about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and its link to terrorism.
Recent events like the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the recent rule change to allow women to drive cars and ride motorcycles also overshadow the decision by the French ruling body, the ASO, which runs the Dakar Rally.
Source: Autosport; Photo: KTM