Two-time World Rally champion Carlos Sainz Sr has secured this third Dakar Rally victory in the 2020 edition of the event, held in Saudi Arabia for the first time ever.
Sainz, the father of McLaren Formula 1 driver Carlos Jr, finished more than six minutes clear of defending winner Nasser Al-Attiyah after 12 stages.
Representing the X-raid Mini squad on this year’s event, Sainz has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018.
The victory is X-raid Mini’s first since its four successive triumphs between 2012 and 2015, and a first for the Mini John Cooper Works Buggy model it debuted in 2018.
Having bagged four stage wins over the course of the marathon, Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz began the final day of competition with a 10-minute buffer over Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel.
That lead never came under serious threat as Sainz paced himself through the shortened 104-mile stage, surrendering only four minutes to Al-Attiyah.
Sainz now only needs to complete a non-timed link and arrive at the finish line in Qiddiya for his victory to be made official.
Though he missed out on victory, Al-Attiyah capped off a sixth podium in the last seven editions by beating Peterhansel to the runner-up spot.
With only six seconds in hand over Peterhansel to start the day, Al-Attiyah caught and overtook the Frenchman’s road-opening Mini buggy to cement himself in second place.
He also picked up his first stage win of the 2020 Dakar at the very final attempt.
Behind Peterhansel, who will celebrate his 17th Dakar podium, Saudi Arabian Yazeed Al-Rajhi took his best Dakar finish yet in fourth place in his Overdrive Toyota.
Al-Attiyah’s Toyota Gazoo team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke made it four Hiluxes in the top seven, the pair separated by sixth-place finisher Orlando Terranova in the X-raid Mini 4×4.
The 2020 marathon featured two first-time stage winners in Vaidotas Zala, a newcomer to the Mini ranks, and Mathieu Serradori, who was a standout eighth at the finish in his Century buggy.
Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso completed the final stage 3m25s slower than Al-Attiyah, which was good enough for fourth-fastest on the day.
Alonso completed his maiden Dakar in 13th overall, trailing Sainz by more than four and a half hours at the marathon finish – as a consequence of lengthy repairs on the second stage and a roll during the 10th.
This was the first time since 2015 that no Peugeot finished in the top three, or the top 10, on the Dakar.
Khalid Al Qassimi’s privateer entry burned up after a promising start, while the other PH Sport-run Peugeot of Pierre Lachaume crashed out on the penultimate day.
Leading stage 12 times
|1||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||1h17m30.s|
|2||Yasir Saeidan||Race World Team||Mini/BMW||1m32.s|
|3||Orlando Terranova||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||3m16.s|
|4||Fernando Alonso||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||3m25.s|
|5||Stephane Peterhansel||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||3m31.s|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||3m56.s|
|7||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||4m31.s|
|8||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||4m40.s|
|9||Yazeed Al-Rajhi||Overdrive Toyota||Toyota||5m09.s|
|10||Mathieu Serradori||SRT Racing||Century/?||5m45.s|
|1||Carlos Sainz||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||42h59m17.s|
|2||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||6m21.s|
|3||Stephane Peterhansel||Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||9m58.s|
|4||Yazeed Al-Rajhi||Overdrive Toyota||Toyota||49m10.s|
|5||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||1h07m09.s|
|6||Orlando Terranova||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||1h12m15.s|
|7||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||1h18m34.s|
|8||Mathieu Serradori||SRT Racing||Century/?||1h59m21.s|
|9||Yasir Saeidan||Race World Team||Mini/BMW||3h42m17.s|
|10||Wei Han||Geely Auto Shell Lubricant Team||Hanwei/Geely||3h51m07.s|
|12||Martin Prokop||MP Sports||Ford||4h04m19.s|
|13||Fernando Alonso||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota||4h42m47.s|