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Dakar 2020: Saudi Arabia, in full view

The organization of the race in the kingdom had aroused a certain apprehension on both sides, especially among drivers, sportsmen above all, for whom the relocation of the Dakar to Saudi Arabia represented a great unknown. Today, on the eve of the finish, the languages are loosening and the protagonists are full of praise for this first Saudi Dakar.

“If you like to discover Africa, you will also like to discover other parts of the world,” said Thierry Sabine, founder of the Dakar, when the race was relocated to South America. Comments that resonated in the heart of Cyril Despres, a driver with five Dakar victories to his credit, when the decision was made to set off to discover Saudi Arabia. “The unknown and discovery are part of the game“.

 

A kingdom full of surprises

And discoveries sure are made by the participants. Stéphane Péterhansel, a living legend of the race for which he holds the record for victories, said it himself: “I have always said that the most beautiful deserts are in the south of Algeria. But here it is almost two or three times more beautiful“. The charms of Saudi Arabia don’t leave Romain Leloup, motorcycle trunk driver, indifferent either: “The variety of landscapes is impressive. In the space of a day, we cross panoramas that are sometimes very different”.

 

“Tiny in the immensity”

While the race took its drivers through the “empty quarter”, the largest expanse of sand in the world, some marveled at the crushing Saudi desert: “It’s strikingly beautiful,” explained French driver Guillaume Simonet, “sometimes you feel like you’re alone in the world, tiny in the immensity“.

Even Toby Price, a motorcycle figure, admits that he is ecstatic about the beauty of the landscapes he passes through, and he shouts it out loud and clear on his personal Twitter account: