Dakar: 3 days to go – Teams roll into Jeddah for final 3 days of preparations

Dakar: 3 days to go – Teams roll into Jeddah for final 3 days of preparations

-As the first edition of the Dakar in Saudi Arabia draws near, the last preparations involve welcoming the riders, drivers and crews for three days of administrative and technical scrutineering. The rally has been invited to set up camp at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium, also known as “the jewel”, on the outskirts of Jeddah, the country’s second city.

  • Among the newcomers to the Dakar, there are of course a significant amount of local competitors, with varying ambitions and resources, but all with the advantage of local knowledge.
  • Although he is still on his way to the Middle East, another debutant announced his arrival at the rally today: the explorer Mike Horn, saved only recently from the Arctic ice, will be taking starter’s orders as the co-pilot of Cyril Despres, who will be seeking the title in the SSV category.



For the last few days, Jeddah, its port and airport have been humming to the rhythm of the Dakar. Riders, drivers and co-pilots, preceded or accompanied by their assistance teams, have been milling around the docks since yesterday morning to retrieve their vehicles. It brought to a close a two-month separation for the South Americans, whose cars, bikes and quads sailed in three cargo ships from Lima, Santiago and Buenos Aires. Peruvian rider Fernanda Kanno, who took the precaution of arriving in Saudi Arabia several days earlier to have time to get over the jet lag, was overjoyed to reacquaint herself with her Toyota Land Cruiser in the sunshine of Saudi Arabia. The largest shipment set off ten days previously from Marseille on board the Jolly Paladio, which contained all the European vehicles (race, assistance and organisers). Some of the Asian and South African competitors chose to arrive by air and were able to complete the customs formalities at the airport, whilst the closest neighbours to the countries of the Arabian Gulf set off to reach Jeddah by road. In fact, it is at the unloading docks located on the coastal road near to the Dakar Village that all the vehicles are parked, as they await the veritable start of the action.



Very little information about the participation of Cyril Despres on the Dakar 2020 has filtered through into the public domain, following his 5th place last year in Peru behind the wheel of a Team X-Raid buggy, and not without reason, because the project he has been discretely preparing hinged on a significant condition… The five-time winner of the Dakar on a bike has been a long-standing acquaintance of adventurer Mike Horn and offered him the opportunity to be his co-pilot in a Team Red Bull SSV. Thrilled at the possibility of making a “childhood dream come true”, the globetrotter of the poles and summits accepted the challenge, but a turn of events seemed set to put paid to such an adventure. His crossing of the Arctic Ocean on skis to the North Pole was severely disrupted by the worrying reduction in the size of the ice pack. The delays incurred and the danger to which he was exposed threatened to compromise the formation of this illustrious duo on the Dakar. However, Horn will indeed be able to respect his commitment to Despres in Jeddah: “My life as an explorer has led me to many different places and now to the Dakar Rally. I got stuck on the ice for a month, but thankfully I’m now on my way to Saudi Arabia to meet up with my friend Cyril Despres”. The Frenchman will be undertaking a double sporting challenge on this year’s race: he will be in the reckoning for victory in the SSV category, but will also be participating as a figurehead of the Red Bull operation aimed at promoting the category and discovering new young talents. This year, the operation’s hopes lie with the Americans Blade Hildebrand, 21 years old, and Mitch Guthrie Jr, aged 23.



Twelve vehicles will be ridden or driven by Saudis this year, which is of course a record for the country. It had already been represented several times in the higher reaches of the general standings by Yazeed Al Rajhi, but this year the nation will be involved at all levels of the standings and in all categories. Though Yasir Seaidan, who already displayed his talent in the T2 category in 2016 (39th overall and 3rd in T2), may perhaps have the opportunity to close in on the top 10 behind the wheel of a Mini, it is very unlikely to be the case for Mohammed Al Twijri.

Although he takes part in a dozen rallies each year, he designed and prepared his 4×4, based on a Toyota, by himself and is simply hoping to complete the race: “I’ve been working on it for five years and making improvements after each competition. When I learned that the Dakar was going to take place in Saudi Arabia, it felt as though my dreams were coming home to me”. Ibrahim Al Muhna shares the same philosophy, but with several tens of thousands of kilometres more under his belt and will be driving a truck: “I have taken part in 138 rallies in the Middle East and North Africa and I’ve completed all of them. Most of the time I was driving a car, but nevertheless this will be my 10th rally in a truck. I’m optimistic, so I think I have a 100% chance of reaching the finish”.

The only Saudi biker on the Dakar, Mishal Alghuneim, is a little more measured in his outlook, aware of the responsibility that he will bear and the difficulty of the challenge: “I’ve just become champion of Saudi Arabia and that has helped my confidence a lot, but it’s the first race I will be taking part in not to perform but just to finish…”



Edwin Straver is delighted to be discovering the Middle East after two experiences in South America. At the administrative and technical scrutineering organised in Jeddah, the former motocross rider cannot wait to set off for Al Wajh on the long and tough first stage. “It’s great to change scenery,” comments Edwin at the exit of the briefing on how to use the Iritrack system correctly. “I rode two Dakar rallies in South America and even though I adore that continent, we were starting to go round in circles a bit. Last year, lots of the stages used already well-known tracks. This year, it really will be a brand-new adventure”. Having triumphed last year in the Original by Motul category, Edwin Straver has decided to do it again for the first Dakar organised in Saudi Arabia, as an unassisted biker, and not just to save money. “Going it alone suits my character and my way of seeing the race,” asserts the strapping Dutchman. “I’m perhaps not the fastest rider, but I’m a good all-rounder and fairly consistent. What’s more, coping on your own is the genuine spirit of rally-raids”. This year, the organisers have decided to give a slight helping hand to these adventurers by limiting the time for road-book preparation for all the riders. “The road-books we will receive will already be colour-coded and often handed out in the morning,” a point which pleases Edwin. “It will help us, because when you take part in the Original by Motul category, you don’t have much time to spend on preparing the road-book. When you arrive at the bivouac late in the evening, your priority is checking the bike and getting some rest”. Despite his victory in 2019, the Dutch rider’s ambitions are on the cautious side. “Last year I won, although it wasn’t my target,” he states. “So this year the main target is to finish again. It’s a win for every rider who gets to the finish, especially for this edition, when there will be forty-something unassisted bikers”. To spice things up, the route will also be rich in surprises. “There will be a lot of rocks and sand,” declares the KTM rider. “I think the riding will be about the same as last year in Peru. Maybe they will make the navigation a little more difficult”. We shall get an initial idea of whether he is right on Sunday 5th January.

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43 minutes ago

24H Series

Cheeky? Definitely 🔥
Risky? For sure 👌
Awesome? Absolutely 😍

#thisisendurance #24hseries #24hseries2020 #24hbarcelona #motorsport #lamborghini
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Cheeky? Definitely 🔥
Risky? For sure 👌
Awesome? Absolutely 😍

#thisisendurance #24HSERIES #24HSERIES2020 #24HBARCELONA #motorsport #lamborghini

2 hrs ago


Back in 1986, onboard cameras were *the* cool new thing in F1 🎥

And in Australia, Johnny Dumfries showed everyone why 🤩
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Some of current F1 drivers are not able to keep the nowadays car straight even with all those gizmos, all controls and people instructing them. I just wonder that they wouldn't be able to exit the pit garage driving those beasts of the past.

Manual gearbox and clutch F1 car onboards are the best, the drivers were proper manhandling them round the circuit and it was spectacular viewing. The Ferrari 640 introduced the paddle shift in 1989, but this setup actually lasted until 1995, when the Forti FG01 was the last F1 car to use it when everyone else by then embraced paddles

These guys were epic...they literally had to muscle these cares around a track...and do it one handed while shifting! Impressive 🙂

These guys were a class apart. Like Nelson said, having to muscle the car around the corner with one hand while changing gears. This was driving, with full respect to nowadays drivers.

Driving an F1 car in the 80's must feel like wrestling a goddamn grizzly bear. So much fighting going on inside the cockpit. Respect.

Love the way people always go on about the past in F1. Road cars are now safer because of the advances in technology from F1, the road cars from the 70s & 80s were a load of crap, now you are driving much safer cars

He took a shower of gasoline from the ahead car,when you see that the camera goes white, imagine that while have to deal whith a manual gearbox monster

That's what an engine should sound like..... Driver drove the car without outside interference. Ahhh - happy days.

Loved this track, much better than Melbourne 🙁

There's some right nostalgic bullshit being posted on here! F1 drivers of today would have been just as quick as these guys were and vice versa. Anyone thinking today's cars have traction control, launch control or abs - they don't.

Changing gear and clutch proper driving plus proper cars whe f1 was great not like the scalectric cars of today

So awesome to see them actually having a shifter and having to control the car with one hand while shifting continuously each lap...

What track is this?

I think formula 1 (when it gets back, obviously) could use some new cameras... I'm a bit dissapointed that so many new ideas get scrapped so quickly.

Some serious work going on here, and the amount of oil kicked out by the car in front!!!

Imagine people’s reactions for the first time they had this angle. Stunning footage. What happened at 50 seconds? Lens cleaner or fuel leaking??

In tht Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell (Williams) retired (puncture) and the world championship was clinched by Alain Prost (McLaren)

What's the in-car adjustments he keeps making with his right hand.. 😉

I remember when I saw this video 2 years ago. A co-worker of dad e mailed it to my Father with the title: "White guys slams british B***h to the limit. XD Appropriate title

What was the average speed during this races? And I would like to see how they drove that thing at Monaco..

Amazing they didnt think sooner to have shifters on the steering wheel.

From a time when drivers drove and pilots flew planes, stunning footage but what happened at appx 50 seconds 🤔🤔

Today's cars are so complicated. Old school drivers had the most organic racecraft.

Love the old F1 videos! Keep bringing back the vintage F1 races.

You should use much more onboard on F1 transmissions. MUUUUUCH more.

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3 hrs ago


The next hero in a long line of American motorcycle racing talent? 🇺🇸

Go behind the scenes with Joe Roberts racer in this exclusive documentary as he sets out on his path to take a nation back to the top ✨

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Great young man and Hopkins will be a good coach for the team.

Moto GP needs Americans riders like Americans riders need motoGP. So happy if you can get strong again. Strong,brave and funny. We need you.

Saw my first moto race and Joe Robert's started on the pole in Qatar! Was a blast but wish MotoGP could have been there. Maybe the Texas race will be the next one.

There is an American in super sport.

It's time to rise again USA 😀

Wish ya was racing at home this weekend!!!

All the Best💥..

Long line ?

Good america moto gp



Je m'implique moins ds ka moto2 que ds le MotoGP classe 1000 mais j'aime regarder de la moto3 jusk'a MotoGP sauf que trop de pilotes sur le plateau moto2 je retient pas tout forcément merci Steve Ragaud

Vincent Bennett

Javier Castro 🚀🇺🇸🇺🇸

La famille roberts Grand nom de la MotoGP du père kenny Robert puis kenny Robert jr champion du monde avec Suzuki et maintena t le fiston! En lui espérant la même carrière que ses aînés!

If the season would get shorten this year. I do believe this would be a great chance for Joe to capitalize on it. If Quartararo & Lecouna made it. He could do it too. But first, I can't wait to see him polish a few mistakes he & his team had in the first race. 😎

Use the front very late along with the rear you moron

Right on! We’re with you and watching.

Hate it when you do this, he has 1 podium and now all eyes are on him so he is gunna feel a mountain of pressure and if he fails that's the end of his career you guys got to stop making a big deal so early all the time what if he can't take the pressure of everyone focused on him 😒

Us American fans can only hope. It’s been a long time since the golden age of American riders that I grew up watching.

Gosh, that livery is amazing. LOVE the helmet!

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