Posted in

1 Month To Go! Iconic Dakar Rally Prepares To Return To Saudi Arabia

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (December 1st) – The Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) and the Amaury Sporting Organisation (ASO) officially launched the 45th edition of the iconic Dakar Rally this morning, confirming the return of the world’s most challenging motorsports endurance race to Saudi Arabia. The Dakar Saudi Arabia 2023 will be held in the Kingdom between 31st December 2022 and 15th January 2023. It will also be the first round of the FIA-FIM World Rally-Raid Championship for the 2023 season.

Today’s launch took the form of a virtual press conference attended by HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Minister of Sports, and HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF) and Saudi Motorsport Company. Also in attendance was Yann Le Moenner of the Amaury Sport Organisation and Dakar Rally director, David Castera.
During the conference it was revealed that Dakar Saudi Arabia 2023, the fourth edition of the Dakar Rally to take place in the Kingdom, will have a new route, racing 8,549 km in total, of which 4,706 km consists of Special Stages, and 70% of it covering completely new territory.
The most daring of drivers will cross tough terrains from the shores of the Red Sea in the west through to the sands of the Arabian Gulf in Dammam in the east, offering a fantastic opportunity for the international racing community to explore Saudi Arabia’s many mesmerising historical landmarks and archaeological treasures.
The route will be made up of 14 stages and a prologue, the most to be held in the Saudi Arabian editions to date. Each stage will cover distances of between 375km and 800km, with the average stage covering around 600km.
It will start at the Sea Camp in Yanbu before travelling east towards Alula and Ha’il where the drivers will take on two loop sections. The rally then begins its journey south stopping in Al Duwadimi for another loop before a well-deserved rest stop for all in Riyadh. Once recuperated, the journey will continue east towards Haradh before travelling south-east for the ultimate 3-day challenge: the Empty Quarter.
The return of the iconic Empty Quarter will see participants race across a vast landscape of challenging sand dunes in a desert the size of France. Within this area will be the marathon stage where competitors will be forbidden from receiving external assistance from their teams overnight – a section not for the faint-hearted.
Once the marathon stage is over, competitors will travel north along the Arabian Gulf coast, passing Shaybah and Al-Hofuf before reaching the final stage in Dammam.
HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal expressed his pride at the return of the Dakar Rally to Saudi Arabia for the fourth consecutive year: “We are thrilled to welcome the Dakar Rally back to Saudi Arabia. Whenever the Kingdom hosts a major sporting event such as this one, the world’s attention is on us. And time and time again, we have been able to successively demonstrate our enormous capabilities in organising and hosting world-class competitions. This year’s Dakar Saudi Arabia again sheds light on the spectacular transformational journey the Kingdom has been on in the past decade. In doing so, Saudi Arabia has established itself as a global home of motorsports, something that has only been possible due to the unlimited support of HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the trust of HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Minister of Sports.” 
The Dakar Rally, now named Dakar Saudi Arabia 2023, is shrouded in history and is a fan favourite event on the motorsport calendar. For over four decades, the iconic event has travelled far and wide across the globe: From 1979 to 2007, rallies took competitors across Europe to cross the finish line in Africa; it moved to South America from 2009 to 2019; before landing in its current home in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2020.
Since its first edition, Saudi Arabia has continued to make its mark in the Dakar history books. In 2023, it is expected the starting line will have a record number of participants, women competitors, and different nationalities.
Welcome Video by HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal: