Riyadh, Jan. 17 (BNA): 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 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 historical 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.
Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain’s Motor Federation, said: “This year’s Dakar Rally victory is a great source of pride for Bahrain as we watched our talented team Carlos Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel rack up repeated stage wins to claim overall victory. As the X-Raid team sponsor, we congratulate Carlos and Stephane on their monumental victory and wish them every success in their endeavours for the rest of 2020. And from one Kingdom to another, we must also thank our neighbours Saudi Arabia for their successful hosting of this year’s rally across 7,500km of truly unforgettable landscapes.”
Sven Quandt, Team X-raid owner, said: “We are delighted to partner with a country like Bahrain that can claim such longstanding support for the motorsports industry. The country’s participation in Team X-raid’s victory adds another dimension to its vision to be a nation that hosts, supports, organises, develops and participates in the success of the global sports movement. It gives me enormous pleasure to join the Kingdom in giving our talented team the warmest congratulations.”