Yesterday, motorsport fans around the world were finally able to revel in the opening of the iconic rally race. For the first time in its history, the Dakar is taking place in the Middle East, and it is Saudi Arabia that is hosting this first Arab edition.
No, the races do not take place on the planet Tatooine, but on Earth, and more precisely in Saudi Arabia. It is the kingdom that has been chosen to be the scene of the confrontation of 550 competitors from 62 countries, who will have to cover 7500 kilometers during 12 days of racing across the desert to rally Riyadh from Jeddah.
In addition to the many local motorsport fans who are delighted that the event is being held in their home country, even simple amateurs are delighted to be able to enjoy the atmosphere surrounding this iconic race.
This edition is also the first for many drivers, whether they are very well known and expected, such as former Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, who finished the first race in 11th position, or very young, such as Talal al-Bader, the youngest rally driver in the kingdom to take part in the race, or for some known in other fields, like adventurer and writer Mike Horn.
The first car events were dominated by Lithuanian Vaidotas Zala, at the wheel of his Mini, who edged out his team-mate, 13-time Dakar champion Stéphane Peterhansel of France. On the bike side, the reigning champion Toby Price is the leader, after having achieved the small feat of winning on his KTM despite… the loss of his roadbook.