Former WRC champion Carlos Sainz has won the Dakar Rally for the first time after managing to hold off a late challenge from Volkswagen team mate Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar. The Spanish driver completed the 9000 km loop in 47 hours and 10 minutes, just 2 minutes and 12 seconds ahead of Al-Attiyah. American Mark Miller finished in third (32 min, 51 sec behind Sainz) to complete an all-Volkswagen podium.
Al-Attiyah had cut Sainz’s lead to two minutes 48 seconds after winning the penultimate stage. The Qatari was again fastest in the final 206 km stage from San Rafael to Buenos Aires but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Sainz. The Spaniard, who had led the standings since stage five, accused his team mate of not playing fair after the two collided while battling in Stage 13. “It was a tough and daily fight against my team mate. I knew it would be like that,” he said.
X-Raid BMW drivers completed the top five. Nine-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel was fourth (2h17’21 behind winner), almost two hours ahead of his team mate and fellow Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit.