Sainz Claims Third Dakar Rally Title

Carlos Sainz gets lifted in the air after clinching his third Dakar Rally title. (Dakar Rally Photo)
Carlos Sainz gets lifted in the air after clinching his third Dakar Rally title. (Dakar Rally Photo)

QIDDIYA, Saudi Arabia – Carlos Sainz locked up his third Dakar Rally title with a sixth-place finish in Friday’s final stage.

Sainz entered the day with a 10 minute lead on Nasser Al-Attiyah. Al-Attiyah won the final stage, which was shortened to 167 kilometers due to construction of a pipeline on the original route, but only gained a few minutes on Sainz and had to settle for second overall.

Sainz claimed the Dakar title by six minutes and 21 seconds over Al-Attiyah, with Stephane Peterhansel finishing third overall, a little more than nine minutes behind Sainz at the conclusion of Friday’s final stage.

“I feel very happy,” said Sainz. “There’s a lot of effort behind this. 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.”

Ricky Brabec became the first American to claim the overall motorcycle division crown, delivering Honda its first Dakar title since 1989. Brabec, who won two stages en route to the title, finished 16 minutes clear of his closest rival, Pablo Quintanilla.

“At the end, we put the pieces to the puzzle together. We couldn’t do it without every rider in the team,” said Brabec, who finished second in Friday’s final stage to Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo. “I’m really happy. It’s my fifth Dakar, my second time finishing… 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. There’s no top guy on the team, we all work together, we’re a family. We all won.”

Brabec wasn’t the only American victor on Friday as Casey Currie laid claim to the class victory in SxS. He finished 39 minutes ahead of Russian Sergei Kariakin at the conclusion of Friday’s stage, which was won by Reinaldo Varela.

“Two Americans on top. I’m blown away, man,” said Currie. “Sean (Berriman, navigator) 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. I’m very stoked for Ricky Brabec, he deserves it more than I do.”

The quad class title was claimed by Ignacio Casale, who finished more than 18 minutes ahead of runner-up Simon Vitse. Arkadiusz Linder claimed the final stage victory for quads on Friday.

“I’m delighted to be here. I’ve won my third Dakar,” Casale said. “I’m elated because it was a long, grueling race. I had some problems during the second week, but we solved them as well as we could. We worked hard all year long with the mechanics and now I can celebrate this win. Thanks a lot and Viva Chile!”

Andrey Karginov wrapped up a dominant performance in the truck division with another stage victory on Friday, allowing him to easily wrap up the division title. He claimed the victory by more than 40 minutes over his closest rival and fellow Kamaz driver, Anton Shibalov.