DESERT DOMINANCE CROWNS CHAMPIONS IN FOUR CATEGORIES AT THE 2019 DAKAR RALLY
After 10 stages across the dunes of Peru the best offroad racers in the world have emerged victorious at the 2019 Dakar Rally. It’s been a bumpy ride of over 5,500 kilometres at the planet’s toughest test of motorsports endurance. Now every competitor crossing the finish line is in the mood to celebrate – none more so than the Red Bull Desert Wings athletes who conquered four categories at the Dakar.
It was a near flawless drive from Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) who burst into an early lead in the car race. Al-Attiyah’s sand racing expertise came to the fore on this Dakar route that saw the convoy plunged into the dunes. At the finish line in Pisco the Qatari ace was celebrating a third Dakar title, and his first with Toyota.
“There’s been a lot of people working on this car for a long time, always believing we could win the Dakar. I’m so proud of these guys right now.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Sébastien Loeb (FRA) seemed like the driver most likely to overtake Al-Attiyah. The nine-time WRC winner picked up four stage victories at this Dakar, but a troublesome waypoint undid his tilt for the title. Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena (MON) finished third overall in their Peugeot 3008DKR, their second Dakar podium finish.
“I prefer to finish first rather than third, but it was a good fight.” – Sébastien Loeb
2018 FIA Cross County Rally World Cup winner Kuba Przygonski (POL) brought plenty of momentum into this edition of the Dakar. The Pole’s four-wheel drive MINI was competitive throughout and he just missed out on the podium with a fourth place result.
“The first week was perfect and then we had some problems. Then we made these last days in the dunes almost perfectly and made it back to fourth place.” – Kuba Przygonski
It was a tough debut for the X-raid MINI JCW Team despite boasting a superstar driving line-up of Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Cyril Despres (FRA). This trio came to Peru with 20 Dakar wins between them, but were unable to add another to their collective tally. Peterhansel crashed out on stage nine, while Despres and Sainz finished fifth and 13th respectively.
“I know how it feels to make a Dakar with no problems and it’s a pity it didn’t happen for us this time.” – Cyril Despres
Once it became clear that victory was not on the cards this year for Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) the former Dakar winner was committed to helping Al-Attiyah claim the win. De Villiers drove a selfless race to finish ninth overall, and assist his Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate to victory.
“All credit to Nasser and Mathieu. They didn’t put a foot wrong on this race. Other than ourselves winning, this is the next best result.” – Giniel De Villiers