BISHA, Saudi Arabia – After more than 4,000km of racing over treacherous Saudi Arabian terrain, the Dakar Rally has crowned Nasser Al-Attiyah, Sam Sunderland, Chaleco Lopez and Dmitry Sotnikov as respective champions of the event.
It was clear that Al-Attiyah was on a car mission from the start, with the Toyota Hilux T1+ driver and navigator Mathieu Baumel (FRA) taking the lead on the first day and keeping top spot throughout for the Qatari driver’s fourth Dakar title and his first in Saudi Arabia.
“Me, Mathieu and the team all did a great job from beginning until the end,” Al-Attiyah said. “It was very important for me to win because now the rally is in our region.”
Nine-time WRC winner Sébastien Loeb claimed his third Dakar podium finish with a runner-up result, while Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekström all steered their electrical drivetrain-powered Audis to at least one stage win.
Sunderland once again became champion, recapturing the title he first won in 2017. The Dubai-based biker delivering GasGas their maiden Dakar victory as he becomes the first biker to win with different colors since the legendary Richard Sainct did it two decades ago.
“There was a lot of stress today because the times have been really close this year,” Sunderland said. “I’m really grateful to everyone who helps and supports me, I hope this victory can repay some of that. This victory feels even better than the first.”
Additionally, Lopez made it back-to-back side-by-side victories by following up last year’s T4 triumph with an overall win in this year’s T3 category, while Cristina Gutiérrez also finished on the podium in third giving the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team their first ever top-three result at the Dakar.
“We have been very strong on every stage,” Lopez said. “We’ve been close to the front each day with no big problems for the car or for navigation. It feels great to win it again.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner got his fourth podium finish in the third spot as Sunderland’s GasGas teammate Daniel Sanders crashed out on the liaison section ahead of stage seven.
Despite an issue in stage two that took him out the running for the title, Seth Quintero won a total of 12 stages – a Dakar record with teammate Guillaume de Mevius.