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What is Dakar?

The 42nd Dakar Rally starts on January 5 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Featuring 12 long stages and a total of 7,500km, like always it promises to challenge all competitors. Exploring the desert of the largest country in the Middle East, the 2020 edition will offer sand dunes, technical canyons and rocky trails, all of which will test racers’ skills and stamina.

The race starts in Jeddah, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia, which is located on the Red Sea coast. Competitors will then set off for almost two weeks of racing before crossing the finish line in Qiddiya on the January 17.


The history of the Dakar Rally

The Dakar Rally is considered one of the toughest off-road rally races in the world. The idea for the rally came from rider Thierry Sabine in 1977 when he got lost in the Libyan Desert while taking part in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. 

Inspired by his serendipitous journey, he promised himself that he would lead a voyage for others into the dunes, to ride and enjoy the dreamlike landscapes he had experienced. Sabine designed a route starting in Europe, continuing to Algiers and crossing Agadez before eventually finishing in Dakar. Over the course of almost forty years the rally has never failed to challenge, surprise and excite, generating innumerable sporting and human stories. 

The first rally set off on December 26th, 1978, as 182 vehicles took the start from the Place du Trocadéro, Paris, France for a 10,000-kilometre journey into the unknown. With 74 adventurers making it to Dakar, Yamaha XT500 mounted Frenchman Cyril Neveu was the overall fastest rider, getting a historic first win for Yamaha in the prestigious rally.

Since that first victory, Yamaha has gone on to write a significant chapter in Dakar Rally’s history with Stéphane Peterhansel. The talented Frenchman claimed an incredible record of six Dakar titles in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1998 aboard a Yamaha motorcycle before switching to four wheels, in the car category. To this date no rider has matched Stéphane Peterhansel's record number of wins. 

In 2008 the rally had to be cancelled due to safety concerns. In 2009, the rally left Africa and found a new home in Latin America, where a loyal public welcomed the event with open arms and followed the riders with great enthusiasm. 

2020 sees the start of a new era for the Dakar Rally as it moves to the shifting sands of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

Race Schedule – Dakar Rally 2020

Stage 1 | Jan 5 | Jeddah to Al Wajh | Total: 752 km | SS: 319 km
Stage 2 | Jan 6 | Al Wajh to Neom | Total: 393 km | SS: 367km
Stage 3 | Jan 7 | Neom to Neom | Total: 504km | SS: 427 km
Stage 4 | Jan 8 | Neom to Al Ula | Total: 672 km | SS: 453 km
Stage 5 | Jan 9 | Al Ula to Ha’il | Total: 564 km | SS: 353 km
Stage 6 | Jan 10 | Ha’il to Riyadh | Total: 830 km | SS: 477km 
Rest Day | Jan 11 | Riyadh
Stage 7 | Jan 12 | Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir | Total: 741 km | SS: 546 km
Stage 8 | Jan 13 | Wadi Al Dawasir to Wadi Al Dawasir | Total: 716 km | SS: 477 km
Stage 9 | Jan 14 | Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh | Total: 886 km | SS: 410 km
Stage 10 | Jan 15 | Haradh to Shubaytah | Total: 608 km | SS: 534 km
Stage 11 | Jan 16 | Shubaytah to Haradh | Total: 744 km | SS: 379 km
Stage 12 | Jan 17 | Haradh to Qiddiya | Total: 447 km | SS: 374 km