Spanish rally legend Carlos Sainz clinched his third Dakar Rally victory in today’s final leg, concluding the 12-day marathon with the poise and consistency that has marked the X-Raid Mini buggy driver’s race from the start.
“I feel very happy. There’s a lot of effort behind this,” said two-time World Rally champion Sainz, 57 (pictured above). “A lot of training, practice, physically, with the team… We started winning this Dakar on day one and we have gone flat out from the beginning.”
The first Dakar to be run in Saudi Arabia is Sainz’s third win in as many different cars. He previously won with a Volkswagen in 2010 and a Peugeot in 2018. Having won four stages this time, he tread cautiously in today’s final stage covering 104 miles from Haradh to Qiddiyah, which he had started with a 10-minute lead over Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and teammate Stephane Peterhansel. Finishing sixth, he wound up with a final margin of 6m21s over Al-Attiyah after more than 4,600 miles of competitive stages.
“I’m quite happy — we did a good job to finish second even though we wanted to win,” said Qatar’s Al-Attiyah, completed his rally in style with a stage win. “We made two or three mistakes along the way and had loads of punctures, but I’m rather happy. I’m elated that we are racing here. I’m coming back to win next year. I just needed a bit more luck.”
Toyota teammate Fernando Alonso also ended his first Dakar strongly, finishing fourth, to climb to 13th overall in the final tally.
Ricky Brabec put an end to 18 years of KTM dominance in the motorcycle category by putting the finishing touches on his win for Monster Energy Honda, becoming the first American to win Dakar.
“At the end, we put the pieces to the puzzle together,” enthused Brabec, who finished second on the final stage to wind up 16m26s ahead of Pablo Quintanilla’s Husqvarna. “I woke up this morning just happy to ride the last day. And we’re here. We won! We had to be smart and focused every day.
Brabec paid tribute to his Honda teammates, noting, “There’s no top guy on the team, we all work together — we’re a family. We all won.”
Brabec’s status as America’s only Dakar winner didn’t last long, though, as Casey Currie capped a great day for the USA in Saudi Arabia with his first victory in the SSV category with his Monster Energy Can-Am.
“Two Americans on top! I’m blown away, man! Sean (Berriman, co-driver) and my team did a phenomenal job. The car ran great all the time. It’s just an epic experience, and I’ll never forget it, for sure. This is my most emotional win ever. The amount of pressure that was on me was incredible. I love this rally! We’re coming back next year to defend our title.”
Chile’s Ignacio Casale capped a triumphant return to the quad category by taking his third Dakar victory by 18m26 over Frenchman Simon Vitse. In trucks, Russia’s Andrey Karginov finished a masterful run for Kamaz, winning his second Dakar by 42 minutes over teammate and fellow countryman Anton Shibalov.