Spaniard Carlos Sainz, 61-year-old father of the namesake Ferrari Formula One driver, won the Dakar Rally for the fourth time in Saudi Arabia on Friday with Audi taking a first title in the car category.
American Honda rider Ricky Brabec won the motorcycling category for the second time in the 46th edition of the gruelling two-week race. Sainz finished the 12th and final stage in Yanbu, on the Red Sea coast, with a lead of one hour 20 minutes and 25 seconds over Belgian Guillaume de Mevius for Overdrive Toyota with France’s Sebastien Loeb third.
Loeb, a nine times world rally champion who had been Sainz’s biggest rival until mechanical problems ended his challenge on Thursday, won the final stage in a Prodrive Hunter for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team. Sainz has now won the Dakar with four different manufacturers – Volkswagen in 2010, Peugeot in 2018 and Mini in 2020 – and he did it this time without winning any of the individual stages.
Audi, who have been targeting the Dakar since 2022 and are widely expected to now focus on their new Formula One project, are the first to win with a car powered by an electric drive train. The Audi RS Q e-tron uses an energy converter, featuring a 2.0 litre four cylinder turbo engine, to charge the car’s high-voltage battery while driving. The rally began in 1978 as a race from Paris across the Sahara to the Senegalese capital but switched to South America in 2009 for security reasons. It moved to Saudi Arabia in 2020 and is now the flagship of the FIA world rally-raid championship.