Baku, June 12, AZERTAC
The Arabia Saudita (ASO) has announced that the Dakar Rally will run entirely in Saudi Arabia for a second successive year in 2021, but on a route that is “100 percent new” compared to last year's, according to motorsport.com.
The Dakar moved from South America to the Middle East last year, marking the start of the third chapter in the illustrious history of the rally-raid.
Saudi Arabia had an exclusivity clause for the first year of the five-year deal, but the ASO had been working to add a second country for the 2021 race, with both Egypt and Jordan believed to have been considered to join their bordering Gulf nation.
However, with the coronavirus crisis likely to create travel restrictions for months to come, it was decided to run the Dakar Rally in a single country for the third year in a row.
The ASO also revealed that the 43rd edition of the event will begin on January 3 in Jeddah and conclude in the same coastal city on January 15 after 11 stages and a prologue that will determine the starting order for the opening special stage. A rest day will be observed in the city of Ha'il on January 9.
"We do not have the route that we expected, because we had two or three [other] countries in our minds, but with COVID-19 and confinement there was no way to go out and visit those territories," Dakar director David Castera told Motorsport.com.
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