Starting on a Sea Camp on the shores of the Red Sea and ending on the opposite side of the Arabian Peninsula, where the race competitors will discover the coast of the Persian Gulf.
In between a four-day adventure through the Empty Quarter, including the marathon stage, the 45th edition of the Dakar is the toughest one since the rally came to Saudi Arabia.
Packing almost 5,000 kilometers of specials into a prologue and 14 stages, the route is a true test of extreme endurance.
The adventure began back in 1977, when Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorbike in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice Rally.
Saved from the sands in extremes, he returned to France still in thrall to this landscape and promising himself he would share his fascination with as many people as possible.
He proceeded to come up with a route starting in Europe, continuing to Algiers and crossing Agadez before eventually finishing at Dakar. The founder coined a motto for his inspiration: A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.
Courtesy of his great conviction and that modicum of madness peculiar to all great ideas, the plan quickly became a reality.
Since then, the Paris-Dakar, a unique event sparked by the spirit of adventure, open to all riders and carrying a message of friendship between all men, has never failed to challenge, surprise and excite.
Over the course of almost thirty years, it has generated innumerable sporting and human stories, including the participants, sponsors, designers and factories.
The 31st edition of the Dakar, the first one in Latin-America, is now over and has seen the victories of Marc Coma in the bike category, Josef Machacek in the quad category, Giniel De Villiers in the car category and Firdaus Kabirov in the truck category.
In total, 113 bikers, 13 quad riders, 91 car teams and 54 truck teams finished the rally-raid, that was notably marked by the exceptional enthusiasm the Dakar generated amongst the crowds in Argentina and in Chile.
The year 1986 marked a black day in history when Thierry Sabine, French singer Daniel Balavoine, journalist Nathaly Odent, pilot François Xavier-Bagnoud and radio technician Jean-Paul Le Fur all met their deaths in a helicopter accident.
Thierry Sabine’s ashes were scattered in the desert and his father Gilbert, aided by Patrick Verdoy, took over the helm. The race went on but no one’s heart was really in it.
Saudi Arabia is home to five historical and archaeological sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as the two most important pilgrimage holy sites in Islam.
The country is bordered to the west by the Red Sea and the east by the Arabic Gulf and boasts three cities with a population of more than a million people: Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca.
The Red Sea runs along the west coast of Saudi Arabia. The ports of Jeddah and Yanbu face it, as does the port of Jizan, in the extreme south of the country.
A few hours from Medina is the port of Yanbu. The modern part in the south is famous for its oil refineries and factories, while the old town in the north is an old staging post on the Spice Route.
In AlUla, in the heart of the desert of northwestern Saudi Arabia, you can live your archaeologist’s dream by discovering the kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The desert plains of Rub al-Khali, the ‘Empty Quarter’, is one of the world’s largest deserts and the largest unbroken stretch of sand. Al-Hofuf is the capital of the Al-Ahsa oasis. With its 2.5 million palm trees, it is simply the largest oasis in the world.
A modern metropolis with an exceptional coastal location, Dammam offers an unobstructed view of Bahrain and the tranquil waters of the Arabian Gulf.
It is the host city for the arrival of the Dakar 2023, with the finish podium and final ceremony to take place at The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, also known as Ithra, the Kingdom’s leading cultural and creative destination.
Dakar 2023 / Shoco Sport News 2023.