Manama, Jan. 17 (BNA): His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa today attended the closing award ceremony of the Dakar 2020 Rally, held at Qiddiyah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
During the ceremony, HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Salman highlighted that the victory for the Bahraini team in the first edition of the Dakar 2020 Rally held in the Middle East, is testament to the efforts of Team Bahrain which continue to have a remarkable impact on the advancement of the Kingdom’s sporting sector and overall development. HH Shaikh Mohammed further highlighted that this accomplishment will be a further addition to the Kingdom’s many achievements in motorsport .
HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Salman emphasised that the Kingdom’s sporting sector continues to advance in line with the vision and aspirations of HM the King, and continues to receive the support of HRH the Crown Prince through the many initiatives and programs adopted. This support has had a profound impact on the Kingdom advancing towards its desired goals under its comprehensive development program, led by HM the King.
HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Salman highlighted that Dakar 2020 marks another milestone in motorsport for the Middle East, commending Saudi Arabia’s success in hosting the international motorsport race for the first time. HH Shaikh Mohammed particularly praised the qualified national cadres who helped successfully organise the international rally, adding that the success of the race is considered a success for Bahrain and the entire region.
HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Salman underlined that the Kingdom’s sporting sector continues to advance due to the invaluable support provided by HM the King and the government, led by the Prime Minister, HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, as well as the fair, competitive sporting environment established and fostered by HRH the Crown Prince. HH Shaikh Mohammed added that these principles have guided the Kingdom’s national program aimed at developing the youth and sporting sector, reflected by the launch of several successful initiatives by the Representative of HM the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs, National Security Advisor and President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports Affairs, HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
HH Shaikh Mohammed praised the relentless efforts of the Bahrain Motor Federation, led by its President, HE Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa, which contributed to today’s victory. HH Shaikh Mohammed wished the Bahrain Motor Federation further success towards attaining the federation’s goals within the motorsport field.
The Dakar 2020 Rally involved 550 drivers from across 62 nations travelling through a total of 7,500 km across Saudi Arabia, with the Bahrain X-raid team driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz finishing in first position. The Bahrain-sponsored winning team also included champion driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Paulo Fiúza who finished the rally in third position.
The Bahrain-sponsored X-raid team won the rally in their self-developed and constructed MINI John Cooper Works, and MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. The rally began in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and concluded in Qiddiya, covering 7,500 kilometres over 12 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 President of Bahrain's Motor Federation, HE Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa, extended his congratulations to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and to the Representative of HM the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs, National Security Advisor and President of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports Affairs, HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on the great victory achieved by the Bahrain X-raid Team. HE added that the achievement has provided the federation even greater motivation to accomplish its wide-ranging goals aimed at further developing the Kingdom’s motorsport sector regionally and internationally.
HE added, “The Bahrain X-raid team composed of the talented Carlos Sainz and Stephane Peterhansel and their co-drivers Lucas Cruz and Paulo Fiúza continued to rack up repeated stage wins to claim first and third positions. As the X-raid team sponsor, we congratulate Carlos and Stephane on their monumental victory and wish them every success in their endeavours in 2020. We would also like to congratulate Saudi Arabia for their success hosting this year's international rally."
Bahrain has a long history of support for the motorsports industry, having hosted the region’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2004. The 2020 edition of the Dakar rally marks another motorsport milestone for the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia becoming the first country in the region to host the challenge. Dakar marks a significant moment for the whole of the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia generating major sporting opportunities and bringing substantial global attention to the region.
Speaking of Bahrain’s broad history of supporting regional and international motorsport, 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 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.”
The new partnership with Team X-raid is yet another addition to Bahrain’s portfolio in motorsports following its investment in McLaren Group and the Bahrain International Circuit, which hosted the region’s first Formula 1 race in 2004. This home-grown enthusiasm for the sport has attracted global investments, such as Italian manufacturer OMP Bell Racing Helmets, which recently launched its regional headquarters in Bahrain to supply equipment for the Kingdom’s F1 team drivers.
HH Shaikh Mohammed bin Salman presented the winning trophy to Bahrain’s sponsored X-raid Team. Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al Faisal, and President of Bahrain's Motor Federation, HE Shaikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa, were also present for the presentation of the trophy.