Price Says 2020 Dakar Route Looks Tough

2 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Rally Zone, Marcin Kin/KTM Images

Two weeks ago, organisers of the Dakar Rally, ASO, announced that, “After 30 years of discovering the beauty of Africa and a decade of adventure exploring the spectacular landscape of South America, a new chapter in the history of Dakar will be written as the world’s biggest rally makes its Middle East debut in Saudi Arabia”.
In a subsequent press conference, alongside representatives from the Saudi government, ASO went on to confirm that Saudi Arabia would host the Dakar for the next five years, and revealed the 2020 Rally’s route.

The first details to emerge are not big on detail, but as the accompanying route map indicates, the 2020 race will kick off in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea on January 5, and end at Al-Qiddiya on January 17 after enjoying a rest day on the country’s capital, Riyadh. It’ll comprise 12 stages and more than 9000km and, given the nature of the Saudi terrain, much of the route will be sand dunes – like in last year’s Peru-based Dakar – as competitors tackle the Rub’ al Khali desert.

According to David Castera, Director of the Dakar, “Looking back at my first memories of the Dakar and my first experiences as a competitor, I’ve always considered that this rally, like no other, carried a concept of discovery; a voyage into the unknown. By going to Saudi Arabia, it is of course that aspect that fascinates me. I’m convinced that such a feeling will be shared by all the riders, drivers and co-pilots. As the director of the event, it’s a massive challenge to be faced with a blank page with limitless possibilities. I’m already inspired and delighted to have to design a course in such a monumental geography, made for the most audacious itineraries. We are spoilt for choice. Sports, navigation, a will to surpass oneself … all these aspects will naturally be glorified on this territory made for rally-raids,” Castera went on to say.

And what does the Dakar’s reigning and two-time champ, Toby Price, think about the race’s relocation to Saudi Arabia? “Well, it’s definitely something new and a fresh place to explore, which is what Dakar is all about,” Pricey told Transmoto. “To be honest, I don’t really know what to expect and haven’t looked into the details that much yet because I’m still just focused on trying to get my wrist sorted. I try not to complicate things too much; I just pack my gearbag and fly to wherever I need to go to race [laughs]. I do know that there’s going to be lots of sand in Saudi, which I don’t mind. From a rider fatigue point of view, they say that one kilometre in the sand is like three on hardpack terrain. So when you consider that this year’s Dakar in Peru was 10 days and just shy of 6000km, whereas the 2020 Dakar in Saudi is 12 days and more like 9000km … well, that says to me that it’s likely to be a damn tough one!” Price went on to say.

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