Photos: Dakar Rally returns for its second Saudi outing

The Dakar, one of motorsport's most dangerous and gruelling events, is being held entirely in Saudi Arabia for the second time, with competitors in a protective bubble after testing negative for Covid-19. Defending champion Carlos Sainz took the lead in the Dakar Rally car category after winning Sunday's first proper stage in the Saudi Arabian desert ahead of Mini team mate Stephane Peterhansel. The rally ends in Jeddah on January 15.

Updated On Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST
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Toyota's Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel of France compete during Stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally between Jeddah and Bisha in Saudi Arabia on January 3. The Dakar Rally kicks off on January 3 in Saudi Arabia, the second time the world’s most gruelling event in motorsport’s calendar has been held in the kingdom amid continued accusations of “sportswashing”. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Toyota's Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel of France compete during Stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally between Jeddah and Bisha in Saudi Arabia on January 3. The Dakar Rally kicks off on January 3 in Saudi Arabia, the second time the world’s most gruelling event in motorsport’s calendar has been held in the kingdom amid continued accusations of “sportswashing”. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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A general view of competitors parked during the prologue on January 2. Launched in 1979 between Paris and the Senegalese capital Dakar, the celebrated endurance challenge moved to Saudi Arabia for the first time last year after a decade in South America, sparking angry reaction from human rights organisations. (Hamad I Mohammed / REUTERS)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

A general view of competitors parked during the prologue on January 2. Launched in 1979 between Paris and the Senegalese capital Dakar, the celebrated endurance challenge moved to Saudi Arabia for the first time last year after a decade in South America, sparking angry reaction from human rights organisations. (Hamad I Mohammed / REUTERS)

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Mini's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz compete during the prologue near the Saudi city of Jeddah on January 2. Among the drivers, however, “sportswashing” -- using sport to divert attention away from human rights issues -- was not on the agenda. Defending champion Sainz summed up the general mood of relief when speaking to AFP, in being able to actually race after a season ruined by the coronavirus pandemic. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Mini's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz compete during the prologue near the Saudi city of Jeddah on January 2. Among the drivers, however, “sportswashing” -- using sport to divert attention away from human rights issues -- was not on the agenda. Defending champion Sainz summed up the general mood of relief when speaking to AFP, in being able to actually race after a season ruined by the coronavirus pandemic. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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Red Bull KTM Factory Team's Matthias Walkner in action during stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally on January 3. The 43rd Dakar sees a new class joining the collection of cars, bikes, quads, trucks, buggies and SSVs - with the Dakar Classic category limited to vehicles from the 1980s and 90s. (Hamad I Mohammed / REUTERS)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Red Bull KTM Factory Team's Matthias Walkner in action during stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally on January 3. The 43rd Dakar sees a new class joining the collection of cars, bikes, quads, trucks, buggies and SSVs - with the Dakar Classic category limited to vehicles from the 1980s and 90s. (Hamad I Mohammed / REUTERS)

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Brian Baragwanath of South Africa and co-driver Tayer Berry compete during Stage 1 between Jeddah and Bisha on January 3. The Dakar got underway with a prologue ahead of 12 stages. A rest day has been scheduled on January 9. It starts and ends this year in the Red Sea city of Jeddah covering a 7,646km circuit. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Brian Baragwanath of South Africa and co-driver Tayer Berry compete during Stage 1 between Jeddah and Bisha on January 3. The Dakar got underway with a prologue ahead of 12 stages. A rest day has been scheduled on January 9. It starts and ends this year in the Red Sea city of Jeddah covering a 7,646km circuit. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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Yasir Seaidan of Saudi Arabia and co-driver Alexy Kuzmich of Russia zip past a shepherd during Stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally on January 3. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Yasir Seaidan of Saudi Arabia and co-driver Alexy Kuzmich of Russia zip past a shepherd during Stage 1 of the 2021 Dakar Rally on January 3. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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French rider Adrien Van Beveren powers his Yamaha during the prologue near Jeddah, on January 2. The Dakar is no stranger to tragedy, with last year’s rally claiming the lives of motorcyclists Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver. In total, 26 participants, including 21 motorcyclists, have been killed since the inaugural rally in 1979. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

French rider Adrien Van Beveren powers his Yamaha during the prologue near Jeddah, on January 2. The Dakar is no stranger to tragedy, with last year’s rally claiming the lives of motorcyclists Paulo Goncalves and Edwin Straver. In total, 26 participants, including 21 motorcyclists, have been killed since the inaugural rally in 1979. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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Camporese Fiori's Roberto Camporese and Co-Driver Umberto Fiori parked up as Merinoteam's Alberto Garcia Merino and Co-Driver Julian Jose Garcia Merino drive past during the prologue. (Hamad I Mohammad / REUTERS)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Camporese Fiori's Roberto Camporese and Co-Driver Umberto Fiori parked up as Merinoteam's Alberto Garcia Merino and Co-Driver Julian Jose Garcia Merino drive past during the prologue. (Hamad I Mohammad / REUTERS)

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French driver Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena of Monaco compete during Stage 1 between Jeddah and Bisha, on January 3. A raft of new safety measures include compulsory airbag vests for motorbike riders, warnings that will notify competitors in the approach to potential dangers with designated “slow zones” limiting the speed to 90km/h in especially tricky sectors. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

French driver Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena of Monaco compete during Stage 1 between Jeddah and Bisha, on January 3. A raft of new safety measures include compulsory airbag vests for motorbike riders, warnings that will notify competitors in the approach to potential dangers with designated “slow zones” limiting the speed to 90km/h in especially tricky sectors. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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Mini's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz during Stage 1 on January 3. Toyota driver Nasser al-Attiyah, a three-time winner of the event earned the right to start first in the January 4 opening stage, a 622km run from Jeddah to Bisha in the southeast of the kingdom. Attiyah faces stiff competition from reigning champion Carlos Sainz of Spain. (Franck Fife / AFP)
Updated on Jan 05, 2021 11:29 AM IST

Mini's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz during Stage 1 on January 3. Toyota driver Nasser al-Attiyah, a three-time winner of the event earned the right to start first in the January 4 opening stage, a 622km run from Jeddah to Bisha in the southeast of the kingdom. Attiyah faces stiff competition from reigning champion Carlos Sainz of Spain. (Franck Fife / AFP)

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