Already the oldest Dakar winner with his 2020 triumph in the Mini X-Raid, Carlos Sainz repeated the feat four years later at the remarkable age of 61. The veteran Spaniard dug deep for this performance, as he explained after completing the 12th and final special on Friday, January 19.
Carlos Sainz, with his co-driver Lucas Cruz, were the clear favorites after securing an 86-minute lead in the 12th and final stage, a short and relatively simple loop around Yanbu.
Sébastien Loeb, who had been Sainz’s closest rival until a suspension arm break in the penultimate stage, clinched the final special of the 2024 Dakar in his Prodrive Hunter.
However, this wasn’t enough for the Frenchman to reclaim second place in the overall standings, which remained with Overdrive Racing’s Toyota Hilux driver Guillaume De Mevius.
Loeb trailed Mattias Ekström, one of Sainz’s teammates, by just two seconds at the first waypoint and then set the pace.
Sainz Secures Victory, Rivals Battle Hard
Nevertheless, De Mevius was the second fastest of the day, lagging by 5’09”, which was just over half of the 9’56” advantage he had in the battle for second place overall at the start of the last stage.
Vaidotas Zala (X-Raid Arijus) completed the top three of the special, again just 12 seconds adrift.
As for Sainz, he finished 17th in the last 175 kilometers of the race but lost only 10’50” to Loeb, making his official margin of victory for the entire rally 1’20”25”.
Guerlain Chicherit, in another Overdrive Hilux, failed to achieve a triple stage victory to close out Dakar 2024, but his fourth-place finish in the special matched his overall ranking.
Ekstrom fell to 12th place at the end of the special, likely driving cautiously near Sainz in case of any mishaps, given that his hopes for a podium finish in the overall standings were already dashed.
It was another tough day for another multiple Dakar champion in an Audi RS Q e-tron, with Stéphane Peterhansel facing engine troubles.
“Mister Dakar” hadn’t yet reached the stage finish while Ekström was 45th in the overall standings.
Carlos Sainz Triumphs Over Sébastien Loeb. Carlos Sainz Triumphs Over Sébastien Loeb