Two of the most challenging weeks in worldwide motorsport are about to commence, as the 2020 Dakar Rally brings five classes of competition through 12 stages of the most grueling driving that the desert has to offer. For the first time, the event moves to Saudi Arabia for 2020, where more than two thirds of the 7,500-kilometer route will consist of special stages and five of those stages will extend over more than 450 kilometers.
Defending Car winner Nasser Al-Attiyah and Bike winner Toby Price headline the entry lists, but both classes feature the same deep entry lists that they always attract. Price’s Red Bull KTM teammates Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland will be back to help the team chase another podium sweep, but so will a hungry Ricky Brabec, who eased the pain of an engine failure while leading the event overall in a Stage 8 last year by winning the Mint 400 last March.
Al-Attiyah may be the driver to beat in the Car class with Toyota Gazoo Racing, but he’s probably the second-most recognizable driver on his team. Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso continues his barnstorming tour through the biggest events in motorsport by making his Dakar debut, not long after fellow F1 teammate Jenson Button made his own off-road debut with appearances at the Mint 400 and Baja 1000. They’ll face a field that also includes past Dakar winners Nani Roma, Stephane Peterhansel, and Carlos Sainz.
After five years away from the event, Chaleco Lopez scored the victory in the SSV class and will look to defend the title in 2020. But if there’s any class where an American might take the win this year, this is the one. Casey Currie was fourth in class as a rookie last year and comes in as a favorite, while AJ Jones will also compete for South Racing and the brand new Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team will contribute Blade Hildebrand and Mitch Guthrie Jr. to the entry list.
A list of American racers competing in this year’s Dakar Rally is below:
Rider or Driver/Co-Driver
|6||Andrew Short||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing (Bike)|
|9||Ricky Brabec||Monster Energy Honda (Bike)|
|47||Garrett Poucher||Klymciw Racing (Bike)|
|59||Skyler Howes||Klymciw Racing (Bike)|
|104||Kyle McCoy||Bas Dakar KTM Racing Team (Bike)|
|344||Bobby Patton/Robbie Pierce||Overdrive Toyota (Car)|
|405||Casey Currie/Sean Berriman||Monster Energy Can-Am (SSV)|
|409||Blade Hildebrand/Francois Cazalet (F)||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team (SSV)|
|412||Mitch Guthrie Jr./Ola Floene (NO)||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team (SSV)|
|427||AJ Jones/Kellon Walch||South Racing Can-Am (SSV)|
The 2020 Dakar Rally will return to the NBC Sports Network for daily update shows as in 2019. The event kicks off on January 5 with the kickoff stage from Jeddah to Al Wajh, six straight stages before a rest day in Riyadh, followed by six more days of racing before arriving in Qiddiya for the conclusion on January 17.