Bengaluru, April 26: It's official! The 2020 Dakar Rally will be held in Saudi Arabia as the organisers revealed the route for the legendary race.
As reported by myKhel.com, the most gruelling off-road races of all times will switch from South America to Middle East for the first time.
The 42nd edition of the FIA sanctioned event will commence on January 5 in Jeddah before concluding on January 17 in Al Qiddiya after 12 stages and over 9,000km of running. A rest day is planned for January 11 in Riyadh.
Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah is the defending champion. The Toyota driver along with his French navigator Matthieu Baumel had clinched his third Dakar crown in January this year in Peru with a 46-minute cushion over Spaniard Nani Roma.
The FIA-sanctioned world's toughest off road rally had been held in South America for the past one decade and the continent had staged the event 11 years in all. Previously it was held in Africa for 30 long years.
Given the nature of the Saudi terrain, much of the route will be characterised by sand dunes - like in last year's Peru-based Dakar.
The event organiser presented the route during a press conference in Al Qiddiya along with representatives from the Saudi government.
"For a born explorer like the Dakar, a fascinating and exciting third chapter begins. In the most extensive country of the Middle East region, the possibilities to create a demanding, balanced and varied route are practically endless," said Rally director David Castera.
It is presumed that the deal for Saudi Arabia to host the Dakar is for five years.
"There's no doubt that the sporting challenge that we're building for the 42nd edition will reflect the freedom of creation given to us by this gigantic territory that combines deserts, mountains, canyons, valleys and even coastal areas," Castera added.