Spanish veteran Carlos Sainz claimed his third Dakar victory after arriving at the finish line in Haradh with his X-Raid Mini. Interestingly, each of his wins has come in a different car: a Volkswagen in 2010, a Peugeot in 2018 and a Mini in 2020.
"I feel very happy. 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,” 57-year-old Sainz said after completing the final stage in sixth place, three minutes and 56 seconds behind stage leader and overall second-place finisher Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Sainz took 42 hours, 59 minutes and 17 seconds to complete the event in Saudi Arabia.
Toyota Gazoo’s Al-Attiyah (who won in 2019) insisted he would be back in 2021 to reclaim the title. He ended a mere six minutes and 21 seconds behind Sainz.
"I'm quite happy, we did a good job to finish second even though we wanted to win. We made two or three mistakes along the way and had loads of punctures, but I'm rather happy. I'm elated that we are racing here. I'm coming back to win next year. I just needed a bit more luck," Al-Atiyah said.
Mini's Stephane Peterhansel ended the final stage in fifth, three minutes and 31 seconds behind Al-Attiyah, to finish third overall. Peterhansel said he was right where he deserved to be.
"Another one done and dusted! Things took a turn for the worse when Andrea [his wife] got bumped from the co-driver's seat before the start. All things told, we came through and we're right where we deserve to be. I don't know yet whether this'll be my last special, I have to talk it over with Andrea. The four specials are a nice consolation prize, it's always nice to win. It proves we've still got the mojo and raw speed,” he said.
A well-deserved fourth place went to Overdrive Toyota’s Yazeed Al Rajhi and his navigator Konstantin Zhiltsov, who delivered a consistent performance throughout the event. They sealed fourth place a modest 49 minutes and 10 seconds behind Sainz.
South Africa's Giniel de Villiers claimed the fifth spot for Toyota Gazoo, while teammate Bernhard ten Brinke secured seventh. Slotting between the two Hiluxes in sixth was Orlando Terranova in his X-Raid Mini. Eighth, ninth and tenth were filled by Mathieu Serradori in his SRT, Yasir Seaidan in his Race World Mini and Wei Han for Geely.
Fernando Alonso closed his inaugural Dakar in 13th place for Toyota Gazoo.
Stage 12 results:
1. Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
2. Saidan (Mini): +01:32
3. Terranova (Mini): +03:16
4. Alonso (Toyota): +03:25
5. Peterhansel (Mini): +03:31
6. Sainz (Mini): +03:56
7. De Villiers (Toyota): +04:31
8. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +04:40
9. Al Rajhi (Toyota): +05:09
10. Serradori (SRT): 05:45
1. Sainz (Mini): 42:59:17
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota): +06:21
3. Peterhansel (Mini): +09:58
4. Al Rajhi (Toyota): +49:10
5. De Villiers (Toyota): +01:07:09
6. Terranova (Mini): +01:12:15
7. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +01:18:34
8. Serradori (SRT): +01:59:21
9. Seaidan (Mini): +03:42:17
10. Han (Geely): +03:51:07