La Cumbre - Spanish
veteran Carlos Sainz clinched overall victory in the 2018 Dakar Rally
on Saturday, finishing safely after the 14th and final stage around
Cordoba in Argentina for his second win in the race.
The 55-year-old, the father of Renault Formula One driver Carlos
Sainz jnr, ended atop the overall standings ahead of a pair of Toyota
drivers - two-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Giniel de
Villiers in third.
South African De Villiers won the final stage to ensure he completed
the podium ahead of defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, who had
seen his top-three hopes all but ended when he hit a tree and lost 40
minutes on Saturday.
Finishing ninth on the day, Sainz retained a huge 43 minute and 40 second advantage on arrival at the end of the 40th edition.
"That was the toughest of all the Dakar Rallies I have raced, but I
put the foot down where I had to and maintained my concentration," Sainz
Having only finished the rally once since his first win in 2010,
Sainz put in a steady performance on the sand dunes, explaining "the
strategy was to take it easy there" before powering into a clear lead on
the high-speed stages.
"We worked very hard for this win, to make a car like that, the whole team pulling together," he added.
The 1990 and 1992 world rally champion became the oldest winner in
the history of the event after starting as an outsider, only to lead
right through the second week of his 11th participation.
"I'll go home and have a long think about it," Sainz said when asked if he would race again.
It is also a third win in four races for Peugeot, who have said they will not race next year.
"Peugeot won twice with Stephane Peterhansel in (2016 and 2017) so I owed them this victory," Sainz said.
meanwhile, cast doubt as to whether he would take part in the Dakar
again after his rally was marred by mechanical problems.
Describing the 2018 event as a "Dakar to forget, quickly", the
52-year-old Frenchman said: "There have been hellish moments where you
ask yourself what you are doing here, as usual.
"I am really not sure if you will see me again," said Peterhansel,
the record 13-time race winner across car and motorbike categories.
Meanwhile, Austria's Matthias Walkner wrapped up his maiden Dakar
Rally bikes title by finishing safely in eighth place on the final day
in Cordoba, as home favourite Kevin Benavides won stage 14.
KTM rider Walkner took a 20-minute lead into the last day in
Argentina, and had little trouble in negotiating the 286km ride
to go one better than when he finished second to team-mate Sam
Sunderland 12 months ago.
Argentinian Benavides had to settle for second overall, 16min 53secs adrift.
Australian Toby Price, the 2016 winner, completed the final podium
after following his penultimate-stage victory with a second-placed
finish to Benavides.
Austrian team KTM have now won 17 consecutive Dakars, but Walkner is the first Austrian to win the race.
"It is a dream come true. I will need some time for it to sink in. It's unreal," Walkner said.
"This morning I was very nervous. Yesterday (Friday) was a very long day, and the guys behind me were pushing like never before.
"But everything went well in the end and it is an incredible feeling."
Results from the Dakar Rally after the 14th and final stage on Saturday:
1. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) 1h 26:29, 2. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) at 40 secs, 3. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Toyota) at 41, 4. Lucio Alvarez/Robert Howie (ARG/RSA/Toyota) at 43, 5. Peter Van Merksteijn/Maciej Marton (NED/POL/Toyota) at 2:06, 6. Jakub Przygonski/Tom Colsoul (POL/BEL/Mini) at 2:11, 7. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek (CZE/CZE/Ford) at 2:13, 8. Sebastian Halpern/Edu Pulenta (ARG/ARG/Toyota) at 2:25, 9. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (ESP/ESP/Peugeot) 3:19, 10. Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi/Xavier Panseri (UAE/FRA/Peugeot) 3:37.
Final overall standings
1. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (ESP/ESP/Peugeot) 49 h 16:18, 2. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Toyota) at 43:40, 3. Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) at 1h 16:41, 4. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) 1h 25:29, 5. Jakub Przygonski/Tom Colsoul (POL/BEL/Mini) 2h 45:24, 6. Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi/Xavier Panseri (UAE/FRA/Peugeot) 4h 20:58, 7. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek (CZE/CZE/Ford) 7h 20:49. (penalty: 1h 10:00.), 8. Peter Van Merksteijn/Maciej Marton (NED/POL/Toyota) 7h 41:28, 9. Sebastian Halpern/Edu Pulenta (ARG/ARG/Toyota) 9h 08:10, 10. Lucio Alvarez/Robert Howie (ARG/RSA/Toyota) 9h 18:46.
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG/Honda) 1h 26:41, 2. Toby Price (AUS/Ktm) at 54sec, 3. Antoine Meo (FRA/Ktm) at 2:49, 4. Daniel Oliveras Carreras (ESP/Ktm) 3:25, 5. Johnny Aubert (FRA/Gasgas Rally Replica 450) 4:19, 6. Oriol Mena (ESP/Hero) 5:01, 7. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/Ktm) 5:23, 8. Matthias Walkner (AUT/Ktm) 5:38, 9. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHI/Honda) 7:57, 10. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/Sherco Tvs) 10:53
Final overall standings
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT/Ktm) 43h 06:01. (penalty: 1:00.), 2. Kevin Benavides (ARG/Honda) at 16:53, 3. Toby Price (AUS/Ktm) 23:01, 4. Antoine Meo (FRA/Ktm) 47:28. (penalty: 1:00.), 5. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/Ktm) 1h 01:04, 6. Johnny Aubert (FRA/Gasgas Rally Replica 450) 1h 53:53. (penalty: 20:00.), 7. Oriol Mena (ESP/Hero) 2h 22:52, 8. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/Husqvarna) 2h 24:05, 9. Daniel Oliveras Carreras (ESP/Ktm) 2h 37:20, 10. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHI/Honda) 2h 42:36