Fernando Alonso encourages the new stage of the Dakar in Saudi Arabia - La Provincia
The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally, which will begin this Sunday and will be held for 12 stages until January 17, is presented with several incentives such as the debut of the test in Saudi Arabi or the participation in cars of Fernando Alonso (Toyota), which opens in the toughest raid in the world.
The rally par excellence will start in the coastal town of Jeddah, the second most important city in Saudi Arabia, and will conclude on Friday 17 in Qiddiyah, a town that began to be built in 2018. After so many years in Africa and a decade in South America, the Dakar It lands in the Arab country, which has signed an agreement to organize the next five editions.
The Qatari Nasser al-Attiyah (Toyota), in the category of cars, and the Australian Tony Price (KTM), in the motorcycleThey will defend their respective titles against a competition as rich as ever and full of other Dakar champions.
Is the case Carlos Sainz (Mini), double winner in cars (2010 and 2018), and from Nani Roma (Borgward), who also won it on two wheels (2004) before doing so on four (2014). The Madrid could not fight the last Dakar due to breakdowns, while the Catalan finished second only behind Al-Attiyah.
The other Spaniard who has been able to win the Dakar, Marc Coma - Tetracampeón in motorcycles-, will be on this occasion co-pilot of the great attraction of the competition, Fernando Alonso, which is still looking for new challenges outside the Formula 1 without ruling out a future return to the 'Great Circus'.
After proclaiming himself champion in F1, the Resistance World Cup, the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the 24 Hours of Daytona, the versatile Asturian pilot opens in the Dakar aware of the difficulty of adapting to a completely new modality for his career, which has always taken place within the circuits.
In addition, this category also highlights the participation of Isidre Esteve (Sodicars), which once again competes with its adapted car with options to be released in the 'Top 20', and Cristina Gutiérrez (Mitsubishi), who faces her fourth Dakar determined to improve your 26th place last year.
As for the motorcycle category, Price, winner in 2016 and 2019, will defend the number one race against other champions such as the Austrian Matthias Walkner (KTM) or the British Sam Sunderland (KTM), who also repeat as applicants.
The main Spanish trick is again Joan Barreda (Honda), which faces the tenth participation in a test that is still resisting despite its numerous stage victories. His fifth place in 2017 remains the best result of Castellón, who left last year when he was leader and in 2018 when he was second.
In addition, they also aspire to make good roles in the noble zone both Juan Pedrero (KTM) as Laia Sanz (KTM), the best woman in the history of the event and who aspires to repeat the 'Top 10' that she reached in 2015, when she was ninth. He is endorsed by his enormous regularity, since he has finished the nine editions of the Dakar he has played.
The more than 550 people of 53 different nationalities registered among all the modalities of this Dakar - which also includes trucks, quads and buggies - must travel a total of 7,856 kilometers total, of which 5,097 will be timed.
As news of this inaugural edition in Saudi Arabia, the road books will be delivered in several stages just a few minutes before the release of the special, making preparation difficult, and an exclusive super marathon stage for motorcycles is also introduced in which only 10 minutes of mechanical work will be allowed, as well as the marathon stage itself - imposed on all vehicles - on the penultimate day.
The objective of the organization with these measures is to rebalance the forces in favor of less professionalized structures. In addition, it has been agreed to grant a wild card in all categories to pilots forced to leave, who may resume the race by registering in a parallel classification named Dakar Experience.