Since 1978, one much-anticipated competition has been running annually across the globe and, this year, for the first time ever, it has made its way to the Arabian Peninsula. The renowned Dakar Rally is currently underway, bringing the world’s top amateur and professional racers to Saudi Arabia to compete, exposing them one of the globe’s most uncharted terrains in the history of the sport.
The 2020 Dakar Rally started off on an exciting note, its first course deceptively coastal and easily maneuverable on paper but surprising a mixture of challenging terrains. According to the event’s official site, even the last two winners of the rally, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz, along with defending SSV champion "Chaleco" López, “were blindsided by the rocky sectors near the end of the stage, leading to punctures that cost them several minutes apiece.”
Another first for the rally is the participation of Talal Al-Bader, the youngest driver from Saudi Arabia to ever take part in the Dakar Rally. From a very young age, the 24-year-old driver has always wanted to be a rally driver. According to Saudi Gazette, his journey started in 2000, when he was just 5 years old. He would lie down in his Porsche-themed bed in Toronto, and daydream of the day he would become a rally driver.
Indeed, as reported by Albawaba.com, Al-Bader spent most of his life working his way towards becoming the caliber of professional driver that he is today. He not only invested heavily in his interest in automotive collection and sports, he is also a power lifter, a skier, and European cross-country cyclist, building his endurance and strength through years of training, racing his way to the top and now competing in the world’s most renowned rally sport.
Founded by Thierry Sabine and considered motor sport’s ultimate endurance race, the Dakar Rally has been the ultimate off-road sport for adventure seekers for four decades. This 42nd edition, which started in Jeddah, will see drivers riding modified vehicles, trucks, quad, SxS, and motorbikes through 12 grueling stages of competition. The rally will run until the 17th of January, ending in Qiddiya.