“I see myself winning the Dakar 100%.” Those words from two-time Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz (Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team) ahead of this year’s event. Ominous words for this rivals. Some 5,000km of intense racing over 12 days, Sainz claimed the overall victory in the Cars Category today after a shortened 167km stage from Haradh to Qiddiya.
It was a no-holds-barred sprint from start to finish today for all competitors, with Sainz needing to secure his overall win, team-mate Stephane Peterhansel and Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) fighting over a six-second gap for second position overall.
First onto the stage today in the Cars category was Peterhansel, three-minutes ahead of Al Attiyah. It took the Qatari 69km to reel in the French ace, to thereby retain his second-place on the general classification. Al Attiyah didn’t relent in his performance to take the stage victory from Yasir Seaidan (Race World Team) and Orlando Terranova (X-Raid MINI JCW Team). Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing) claimed fourth place on today’s running, an impressive performance for a Dakar debutant.
This is Sainz/Lucas Cruz’s third Dakar Rally victory – all of which have come with different manufacturers, having previously won in 2010 with Volkswagen and 2018 with Peugeot.
“I feel very happy,” commented 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.”
The Trucks category was dominated by Andrey Karginov and his Kamaz-Master machine. He started the stage first today and wasn’t challenged for the lead once. His team-mates Anton Shibalov, Eduard Nikolaev and Dmitry Sotnikov weren’t too far off the pace, but Karginov pulled no punches as he claimed the overall victory by 42min 26sec over Shibalov and 02hr 04min 42sec over MAZ-SportAuto’s Siarhei Viazovich.
Jose Cornejo (Monster Energy Honda Team 2020) and overall Bikes category leader Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda Team 2020) fought from the first kilometer to the stage’s last, with Cornejo taking the win over Brabec by a slender 53 seconds. With a cautious Stage 11 performance yesterday, Brabec was expected to slow his pace today too but the American racer extended his overall lead over Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team) and Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) to claim his first Dakar Rally.
The true spirit of the Dakar Rally has returned: fierce competition, long and challenging stages, and fantastic camaraderie.
General Classifications after Stage Twelve:
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) (Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team): – 42h59m17s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) (Toyota Gazoo Racing): +06m21s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Paulo Fiuza (PRT) (Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team): +09m58s
1. Ricky Brabec (USA) Monster Energy Honda Team 2020: 40h02m36s
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing: +16m26s
3. Toby Price (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: + 24m06s
1. Andrey Karginov/AndreyMokeev/Igor Leonid (RUS) Kamaz,-Master: 46h33m36s
2. Anton Shibalov/Dmitrii Nikitin/Ivan Tatarinov (RUS) Kamaz-Master: +42m26s
3. Siarhei Viazovich/ Pavel Haranin/Anton Zaparoshchanka (BLR) Maz-SportAuto: +02h04m42s