Dakar Rally stars happy to return to Saudi Arabia

December 31, 2020

JEDDAH — The top competitors of the Saudi Dakar Rally 2021 held a "virtual" press conference on Thursday to talk about the upcoming race, which will start from Jan. 3 to 15, 2021 from Jeddah, and will last for 13 days.

The press conference witnessed the presence of a number of international competitors, led by Spain's Carlos Sainz, who won the last Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020, in the car category, and French Stephan Peterhansel, the record holder in winning Dakar (13 times), and Saudi rally champion Yazid Al-Rajhi, and American Ricky Brabec champion in the bike category in the previous edition, and its competitor in the same category, Chilean Pablo Quintania, and Russian Andrei Karginov, champion of the truck category.

During the conference, the contestants expressed their happiness to return to the Kingdom again, to participate in the most challenging rally around the world. They also expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Kingdom for the great effort it has made to organize this race, and to overcome all difficulties to ensure the organization of the race and to overcome all obstacles and difficult conditions that the world went through over the course of 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The participants also affirmed that they look forward to the start of the Dakar adventure and to test their navigational abilities and skills again, on the completely new path and its different and unique terrain, which pose a challenge to all competitors, regardless of their skill and experience.

Saudi Al-Rajhi expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the Saudi leadership, which pays great attention to the sports sector, and also thanked the Ministry of Sports and the Automobile and Motorcycle Federation for the efforts made in terms of facilitating services and providing the necessary needs for the organizer, to hold this event, despite the hardships and surrounding conditions.

Regarding his fourth place in the 2020 edition and his ambition for the new version, Al-Rajhi said: “We faced some navigational problems in last year's race, so we were happy to finish the race in fourth place, but this year my colleague and navigator Derek Vaughn will return after recovering from injury, and our goal is definitely to win. To race."

As for Spaniard Nani Roma, who previously won the Dakar Rally in the car and motorcycle categories, he said: “The landscapes here are stunning, the Kingdom is really beautiful, and its people are also very nice, and we always feel welcome, and it is great to come back here again and explore this beautiful and hospitable country, I think. Choosing the Kingdom to hold the race was a successful decision by all standards, as it has different terrain.”

For his part, Chilean Pablo Quintania, who finished second in the previous version in the motorcycle category, said: "The Dakar is a very difficult race. Many things may be under your control, but many things are also out of your control, and it is impossible not to make mistakes during the race, and in the end he wins. The driver who makes the fewest mistakes, the motivation remains the same, and I definitely look forward to winning."

Meanwhile, Andrey Karginov, winner of the truck category, added: “The 2020 edition was great, the terrain is really nice, so I’m happy to be back in the Kingdom. We won last year, but we know that winning this year will be harder, so we will work hard.

“The truth is I’m really impressed by the terrain that exists here in the Kingdom and its diversity, so this year's special track will be more challenging for us. The results in the Dakar Rally are unexpected, and there are many distinguished drivers, so the competition will be very strong." — SG

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