The Bahrain X-raid team has claimed victory at the Middle East’s first Dakar Rally. The route of Dakar 2020, hosted by Saudi Arabia, traveled through vast expanses of the largest country in the Middle East.
550 drivers from 62 nations faced a total of 7,500 km, with the Bahrain X-raid team driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz completing the 12 stages in forty-two hours and fifty-nine seconds. The Bahrain-sponsored winning team also included champion driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Paulo Fiúza who finished the rally in the third position respectfully.
Bahrain has a long history of support for the motorsports industry, having hosted the region’s first-ever Grand Prix in 2004. The 2020 edition of the rally marks another motorsport milestone for the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia becoming the first country in the region to play host to the challenge, gaining the right to hold it for the next five years.
Dakar marks a significant moment for the whole of the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia creating major sporting opportunities and bringing substantial global attention to the region. The rally began in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and concluded in the capital, Riyadh, covering 7,500 kilometres over 13 days.
The route passed through some of the most historic and culturally significant locations in Saudi Arabia, including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al Ula. The Bahrain-sponsored X-raid team won in their first-ever self-developed and constructed Mini John Cooper Works and Mini John Cooper Works Buggy.
The new partnership with Team X-raid builds upon Bahrain’s investment in MacLaren Group which includes the F1 Team, MacLaren Automotive and the recently launched McLaren pro cycling team to showcase the progressive opportunities the Kingdom is placing on further establishing itself as a hub for strategic sporting development.
Indeed, this home-grown enthusiasm for the sport has attracted global investments, such as US manufacturer OMP Bell Racing Helmets, which recently launched its regional headquarters in Bahrain to supply equipment for the Kingdom’s F1 team drivers and access the wider GCC markets.
Situated at the nexus of the Middle East, Bahrain has earned a reputation as a springboard for businesses seeking access to the growing US$ 1.5 trillion Gulf opportunity, including its largest market, Saudi Arabia.