The 2020 Dakar was won by former World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz who took his tally of Dakar wins to three, partnered by navigator Lucas Cruz. Helped by the performance and reliability of its Bahrain JCW X-Raid MINI buggy and BFGoodrich tyres, the Spanish pair was fastest on four of the event’s stages.


Last year’s victors Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar and Frenchman Matthieu Baumel came second in their Toyota Gazooo Racing Hilux despite incurring a three-minute penalty, while Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Paulo Fiulza (Bahrain JCW X-Raid) were third.

Anyways,  why did BFGoodrich of all brands invite us to the Dakar? Simple, they have been very active in the rally for over 45 years, experiencing 15 victories along the day, accomplished with five distinctive car makers, namely Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Mini, Peugeot and Toyota. This year, they were selected to be the official tyre sponsor of the Dakar providing an estimated 2,500 sets of tyres throughout the rally’s duration.

The invite for this trip from BFGoodrich had come a few months in advance and, not anticipating the tragedy that would ultimately curtail my plans, I was ecstatic and raring to go. I spent those months leading up to the trip studying and familiarizing myself with the history of the Dakar Rally.


When one thinks of Dakar, the impression is that of a tough and exhausting race, one of the most gruelling off-road motorsports event. There have been cases of competitors who gave their lives during this rally; sadly a somewhat normal occurrence, although not one taken for granted.

It was a new year, right before my birthday, I was stoked to fly all the way to Saudi Arabia for the 42nd Dakar Rally – my first time experiencing the legendary race in person. I spent my time leading up to the trip reading up on how to behave in Jeddah, the clothing that was allowed there, the weather at the time, the currency, and of course how the Dakar Rally came to be.


Unfortunately, just as I set foot into the airport, I received word that someone very dear to me had just departed. Immediately, my travel plans vapourized and became funeral arrangements.

True to his word, in 1978, Thierry Sabine organised his first Paris-Dakar Rally on 26th December. With 182 vehicles consisting of 90 motorcycles, 80 cars, and 12 trucks flagged off from Place du Trocadéro, Paris for a 10,000km expedition throughout 16 days across two countries and six countries. Only 74 survived to reach finishing line at Senegal, Dakar. It was then that Dakar Rally was born.

Would you believe the birth of Dakar started off with a man getting lost? In 1977, French racer Thierry Sabine went off track into the Libyan desert on his motorcycle during the Abidjan-Nice rally. Having run out of naphtha in his Yamaha XT 500, he was stranded in the Teneré desert with no food and close to little water. It was only two days and two nights later that he was rescued by his compatriot, Jean Michel Siné. The time that Thierry spent wandering around the desert left him scarred but with an overwhelming desire to return to the sands but not alone – of course.

Today, Dakar 2020 featured 473 vehicles crossing 7,500km where 5,000km make up of special stages in other words, hardcore phases. This also happened to be the Dakar’s first ever stop in Asia.


Dakar Rally consists of five categories being bikes, quads, cars, trucks and the most recent addition is the “Side by Side”. To participate in Dakar, competitors are required to have already finished one round of the FIM Cross-Country World Cup or a “Dakar Series” race. Each of these divisions have their own rules and regulations in regards to their engine configuration and displacements which they must comply with.

Popularity of the Paris-Dakar Rally grew steadily and the event quickly established itself as a fixture in the international motor sports calendar. Interestingly, despite keeping the name, the rally would eventually grew beyond its original end points. The 1992 edition went from Paris to Cape Town, whilst in 1995 it flagged off from Granada and finished at Dakar. Following the cancellation of Dakar 2008, the event moved out of Europe and Africa altogether to South America in 2009.

The Road Not Taken

Tragic circumstances robbed Beng of her chance to watch the Dakar Rally in person, but so meticulous was her planning for the trip, we couldn’t let her travel notes go to waste.


Having expended all the effort in the prep work, it was ultimately regrettable, if also unavoidable that I could not board the flight to Jeddah that night at KLIA. The opportunity to be stage side on one of the world’s most hyped motorsports arena don’t come everyday. Hopefully, another chance to head there will come by again.


As Thierry Sabine would say,

“A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who had to stay behind”.

Before receiving their invite to Dakar, I’ve honestly only heard of the BFGoodrich brand only in bits and pieces, but never quite knew that they had such a deep and glorified involvement in the field of motorsports.