Dakar Rally begins in Saudi Arabia

One of the toughest and most grueling cross-country races known to man has kicked off in Saudi Arabia. The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally pushes through this year despite the ongoing pandemic.

2021 Dakar Rally kicks off in Saudi image2020 Dakar champion, Ricky Brabec

This year’s edition will follow a route that will traverse the entirety of Saudi, covering a total distance of close to 8,000 kilometers. After some rule changes which was announced last year, defending Dakar champion, Ricky Brabec of Monster Energy Honda still remains the crowd favorite.

Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price is the current leader, only needing 3 hours and 17 minutes to finish the 622 kilometers of Stage 1. He is closely followed by Kevin Benavides of Monster Energy Honda and Matthias Walkner of Red Bull KTM, 2nd and 3rd respectively.

This year’s Dakar Rally will run from January 3 to 15, with a one-day rest on January 9.

About Dakar Rally

2021 Dakar Rally kicks off in Saudi image2021 Dakar route

The Dakar Rally’s inaugural run happened in 1978, with the original route starting off from Paris, France (Europe) and concluding in Dakar, Senegal (Africa). 182 vehicles joined the inaugural Dakar Rally, in which 74 vehicles finished the 10,000-kilometer race. Yamaha took the privilege of winning the motorcycle segment of the first Dakar, ridden by Frenchman Cyril Neveu. He then won the succeeding 1980, 1982, 1986, and 1987 Dakar Rallies.

In 2008, however, organizers were forced to cancel that year’s Dakar due to security concerns in Mauritania. In 2009, the Dakar Rally shifted to South America, where the race was held until 2019, then to Saudi starting in 2020.