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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - JEDDAH — Sports and entertainment enthusiasts will be able to live the thrilling experience of Dakar Rally as soon as Thursday (Jan. 2), with the Dakar Village set to open in Jeddah corniche ahead of the much-anticipated start of Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 on Jan. 5.
The three-day motorsport-themed event will host Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020’s opening concert on Jan. 4, which features music performances by local DJs as well as acrobatic shows and circus acts by Kitonb. In addition, the drivers competing at the race will officially present their vehicles to the crowd at Dakar Village.
Adding to the excitement around Dakar Village is a series of freestyle motocross shows that will be performed four times a day as well as a stunt show presented by Red Bull. Children and family will be in the heart of activities at the village, with pedal cars races, little mechanic stops and virtual reality all contributing to the fun and engaging atmosphere.
The village will also include Discover Dakar, a museum featuring visual and photographic exhibits that showcase the history of the world’s most challenging race throughout its 42 years, while introducing fans to the desert, terrain, culture and people of Saudi Arabia.
A live DJ performance will provide a fitting backdrop to the thrill at Dakar Village as fans gear up for the 13-day adventure that runs until Jan. 17 through more than 7,500 km of uncharted desert.
Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will feature pilots from 62 countries, including 47 legends who took on the Dakar challenge at least 10 times in their careers. The Kingdom’s desert will also be the stage for the first Dakar venture for 85 competitors.
Extending over a total distance of 7,856 km, Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 pilots must navigate their way through 5,097 km of special off-road sections, the longest in the history of Dakar Rally. The race gets underway in Jeddah before drivers and crews navigate their way through the fast and winding dunes and stones for 752 km.
The challenge continues up north along the coast for nearly 900 km through the Red Sea Project till it reaches the futuristic megacity of NEOM, where the marvellous journey reaches its highest point at an altitude of 1,400 metres amid a series of canyons and mountains.
A combination of sandy stretches and gravel await Dakar’s thrill-seeking pilots as they cruise next through 676 km of the formidable trip from NEOM to Al Ula in Dakar’s fourth stage before the sandy hills of Ha’il put the navigation skills of competitors to the test while descending south onto Riyadh.
A rest day in the capital will be followed by Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020’s longest stage of 741 km as the route takes a turn to the west in the center of the Kingdom’s enormous desert before looping back toward Haradh in the eastern governorate of Al Ahsa, marking the entrance to the Empty Quarter and building up to the grand finale in the future entertainment, sports and cultural destination of Qiddiya, where the winner will be crowned on the final podium.
Dakar Saudi Arabia 2020 will see pilots drive specially modified vehicles, trucks, quad, SxS, and motorbikes, designed to handle 12 stages of various challenging terrains of the vast Saudi desert. — SG
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