Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Lucas Cruz (ESP) of Team Audi Sport are seen at the finish line of Rally Dakar 2024 in Yambu, Saudi Arabia on January 19, 2024 // Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401190232 // Usage for editorial use only //
Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Lucas Cruz (ESP) of Team Audi Sport race during stage 08 of Rally Dakar 2024 from Al Duwadimi to Hail, Saudi Arabia on January 15, 2024 // Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401150178 // Usage for editorial use only //
Cristina Gutierrez (ESP) is seen at the finish line of Rally Dakar 2024 in Yambu, Saudi Arabia on January 19, 2024 // Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401190275 // Usage for editorial use only //
Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz on their Audi RS Q e-tron E2 of the Team Audi Sport during the Stage 6 « 48 Hours Chrono » of the Dakar 2024 from January 11 to 12, 2024 around Subaytah, Saudi Arabia // Eric Vargiolu / DPPI / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401120149 // Usage for editorial use only //
Lucas Moraes (BRA) and Armand Monleon (ESP) of team Toyota Gazoo Racing race during stage 06 of Rally Dakar 2024 in Shubaytah, Saudi Arabia on January 11, 2024. // Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401110539 // Usage for editorial use only //
Daniel Sanders (AUS) for Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing races during stage 6 of Rally Dakar 2024 from SHUBAYTAH to SHUBAYTAH, Saudi Arabia on January 11, 2024. // Flavien Duhamel / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202401110182 // Usage for editorial use only //
Legends secure their status while fresh faces emerge on the shifting sands of the Dakar Rally
History was made at the 46th Dakar Rally when the Ultimate class was won for the first-time ever by a car equipped with electric drivetrains. Carlos Sainz’s futuristic Audi RS Q e-tron beat all-comers over the 5,000km of perilous dunes, mountains and canyons in Saudi Arabia. While Sainz won a fourth Dakar title of his illustrious career there was also a popular first win in the Challenger class for one of the rally’s young guns.
Spain’s original off-road superstar Carlos Sainz has struck glory again at the Dakar Rally. The Team Audi Sport driver has added a fourth Dakar title to his collection. El Matador has played a key role in the development of the Audi RS Q e-tron and its innovative combination of electric drivetrains and efficient energy converter. The 61-year-old and co-driver Lucas Cruz were in imperious form throughout the entire two weeks in Saudi Arabia, demonstrating an innate understanding of when to push for speed and when to switch the strategy.
“When you work hard and you believe in yourself, when you have a good team and good people around you, then the work will always pay off. This car is so special. I want to enjoy this victory and I will think about my future in the next weeks.” – Carlos Sainz
Taking the runner-up spot in the Ultimate class was Guillaume de Mévius in his Toyota Hilux Overdrive alongside co-driver Xavier Panseri at their first rally together. 20 years ago De Mévius’s father Grégoire was racing the Dakar against Sainz, now his son is carrying on a fine family tradition. 29-year-old De Mévius is the first driver under 30 to finish on the Ultimate class podium since the rally left Africa.
“We never expected to be on the podium. We always dreamed about it, but it was not the objective at the beginning of the race. It’s an amazing feeling to be here, it’s an amazing feeling to be second. Thank you to the team and thank you to my family and my friends who have given a lot of support.” – Guillaume de Mévius
It was a fifth podium finish at the Dakar for Sébastien Loeb as he and co-driver Fabian Lurquin’s Prodrive Hunter took third overall. You can be sure that the nine-time WRC winner will return to the Dakar as he chases one of the few off-road titles that still eludes him.
“We tried but we lost second place and we are third. Finally we are at the finish line so it’s not too bad.” – Sébastien Loeb
It was a tough Dakar for reigning champions Toyota Gazoo Racing as their fleet of Toyota GR DKR Hilux cars all suffered at various points during the rally. Lucas Moraes had a podium place cruelly snatched away on the penultimate stage. 2009 Dakar champ Giniel de Villiers and 21-year-old Ultimate class rookie Seth Quintero found clean days hard to find throughout the two-week odyssey from AlUla to Yanbu.
As Sainz edged towards victory in the second week of the Dakar he was supported by fellow Team Audi Sport drivers Mattias Ekström and Stéphane Peterhansel. The cooperation between the three race crews as the stages ticked by underlined the importance of teamwork at the world’s toughest rally.
Bringing her Astara CR6-T home as the 15th quickest machine in the Ultimate class is the latest legendary achievement by Laia Sanz at the Dakar. Not only did Sanz complete her 14th consecutive Dakar (11 on a bike), but she also drove the third quickest two-wheel drive car at the rally.
There was no sixth Dakar win for Nasser Al-Attiyah this time around as he announced his premature retirement from the rally following Stage Nine. A succession of mechanical issues had plagued the Qatari’s Prodrive Hunter during the second week of the rally.
The biggest dose of drama on the 2024 Dakar Rally’s final stage was delivered in the Challenger race as the lead changed hands on the 175-kilometre loop around the Yanbu bivouac. Cristina Gutiérrez started the day in second overall and 25 minutes off the lead, but after an historic turnaround she hit the front. At the podium ceremony in Yanbu tonight the Spaniard will celebrate becoming the first woman to win a Dakar title since Jutta Kleinschmidt in 2001. Gutiérrez and co-driver Pablo Moreno never gave up hope in their Taurus T3 Max even when victory looked close to impossible.
“I always tried to fight until the finish. We didn’t know what had happened until the last kilometres. We pushed a lot on this stage because I knew that 25 minutes is a lot, but if something happens behind you, you never know. One of my values is to never give up and always in the race I never gave up. I pushed myself until the finish.” – Cristina Gutiérrez
There was despair on Stage 12 for Mitch Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch as they saw the lead they had held since the Rest Day slip away. Their Taurus came to a standstill twice on the final stage as the 25-minute lead they had held over Gutiérrez evaporated. Guthrie Jr. rolled up his sleeves to finish the stage and take second spot overall in the Challenger class.
“I knew there was one more stage and anything can happen. I wasn’t expecting it, but it happened. That’s the tough part of racing, these problems happen. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, that’s just racing. It really sucks, I’m disappointed and bummed out.” – Mitch Guthrie Jr.
Taking the third spot on the Challenger podium was Rokas Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal as they held off the threat from fellow Can-Am drivers Chaleco López and Austin Jones who had to settle for spots inside the Top 5.
“This was my third Dakar and it was the most difficult of all. We had two Marathon Stages and lots of kilometres. I survived, the car survived so now it’s time to celebrate.” – Rokas Baciuška
Local favourite Dania Akeel had to settle for 28th place overall in the Challenger class after a Dakar beset with mechanical issues ended on a high note.
“Today’s final stage was a lot of fun. We started near the back because of some problems yesterday and we ended up passing about 60 cars. The rally style track at the end by the Rea Sea was really cool.” – Dania Akeel
A brave defence of his Dakar title ended with a stage victory on the final day of this year’s rally for Kevin Benavides. The odds were always stacked against the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing biker since he broke a fibula bone last month. However, the Argentinian battled though the world’s toughest rally once again to record a fourth place finish.
“It was a really tough Dakar with really hard and really long stages. We were on the bike for so many hours each day.” – Kevin Benavides
Fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Toby Price also showed superhuman levels of determination to keep chasing eventual Bike race winner Ricky Brabec. Price is yet to taste Dakar glory in Saudi Arabia despite winning the rally twice while it was hosted in South America. The Australian finished in fifth place this time around.
“For sure this has been a tough one so we’re happy to be here at the finish line all healthy and in one piece. It feels like we brought a knife to a gun fight.” – Toby Price
Luciano Benavides, younger brother of Kevin, arrived in Saudi Arabia with great expectations after winning the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship. The Husqvarna rider put a tough first week behind him to move up the leaderboard during the rally’s second week, finishing seventh overall.
“In all the years I’ve been racing this was the hardest rally that I ever did. For me it was a great race and I gave my all every day and on every kilometre so I’m happy with that.” – Luciano Benavides
Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing biker Daniel Sanders crossed the finish line as the eighth fastest rider despite suffering two injury plagued years. The Australian may still be waiting for a first-ever podium finish at the Dakar but completing all 12 stages just three months after surgery on a broken femur is a legendary effort.
Placing as the top privateer entry as he took a sixth Top 10 finish of his Dakar career was Štefan Svitko. The Slovakian guided his KTM machine to ninth overall as he kept pace with his factory-backed rivals.
“To be in ninth position and back inside the Top 10 was a dream for me. It’s been a good Dakar for me.” – Štefan Svitko
This Dakar came to a premature end for two-time winner Sam Sunderland on Stage 3 due to mechanical issues with the Brit’s GasGas 450 Rally bike.
All finishers of the 2024 Dakar Rally will be honoured tonight at a podium ceremony in Yanbu. Once again the Dakar has proved to be the greatest challenge that motorsport has to offer as it plunged the convoy into a 5,000-kilometre battle through the deserts of Saudi Arabia. When competitors and their machines have finally recovered from the rally you can be sure they’ll be itching to get back next year and do it all again.
ULTIMATE 1. C. SAINZ (ESP) AUDI 48:15:18 2. G. DE MEVIUS (BEL) TOYOTA +01:20:25 3. S. LOEB (FRA) PRODRIVE +01:25:12 4. G. CHICHERIT (FRA) TOYOTA +01:35:59 5. M. PROKOP (CZE) FORD +02:16:43 7. G. DE VILLIERS (RSA) TOYOTA +02:50:26 9. L. MORAES (BRA) TOYOTA +03:03:12 15. L. SANZ (ESP) ASTARA +04:53:46 26. M. EKSTROM (SWE) AUDI +15:19:39 30. S. PETERHANSEL (FRA) AUDI +17:25:12 42. S. QUINTERO (USA) TOYOTA +69:04:43
CHALLENGER 1. C. GUTIERREZ (ESP) TAURUS 53:59:47 2. M. GUTHRIE (USA) TAURUS +35:46 3. R. BACIUSKA (LTU) CAN-AM +58:47 4. F. LOPEZ (CHI) CAN-AM +01:11:20 5. A. JONES (USA) CAN-AM +01:44:47 28. D. AKEEL (SAU) TAURUS +79:41:40
BIKES 1. R. BRABEC (USA) HONDA 51:30:08 2. R. BRANCH (BWA) HERO +10:53 3. VAN BEVEREN (FRA) HONDA +12:25 4. K. BENAVIDES (ARG) KTM +41:19 5. T. PRICE (AUS) KTM +45:28 7. L. BENAVIDES (ARG) HUSQVARNA +53:31 8. D. SANDERS (AUS) GASGAS +01:14:32 9. S. SVITKO (SVK) KTM +01:56:28