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.
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.
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.