Sainz clinches third Dakar victory

WRC legend takes victory for Mini, Alonso makes eventful debut

Carlos Sainz wins Dakar Rally 2020

World Rally legend Carlos Sainz claimed a third victory in the Dakar Rally – and for a third different manufacturer – by triumphing for X-raid Mini in the 2020 event.

The event was in uncharted territory this year as it was held in Saudi Arabia for the first time, but it was a familiar trio of proven Dakar winners who dominated the majority of the rally – with Sainz challenged by team-mate Stephane Peterhansel and Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz took the lead on the third stage and was never headed thereafter, always able to rebuild their lead even when navigational problems allowed rivals to close.

Carlos Sainz X-raid Mini Dakar Rally 2020

X-raid looked like it might secure a 1-2 as Peterhansel’s win on the penultimate stage brought him to within six seconds of Al-Attiyah ahead, but the Toyota man set the pace on the final day.

That got Al-Attiyah to within 6m21s of Sainz at the finish, with Peterhansel three and a half minutes further back.

Another long-time WRC regular – Yazeed Al-Rajhi – was best of the rest in fourth in an Overdrive-run Toyota.

Al-Attiyah’s team-mates Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard Ten Brinke sandwiched X-raid’s Orlando Terranova in fifth and seventh.

Fernando Alonso Dakar Rally 2020

Much of the international attention on this year’s Dakar centred on double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso.

Having won two Le Mans 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship with Toyota, he maintained his relationship with the firm to try cross-country rally for the first time.

Losing three hours to repairs following an impact on only the second stage meant Alonso was playing catch-up almost from the outset, though.

He set respectable stage times but a double roll on the penultimate stage limited him to an eventual 13th place.