Renowned Rally driver Carlos Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP) have won the Rally Dakar for the third time, having previously triumphed in 2010 and 2018.
In doing so, they presented MINI with its fifth overall victory at the iconic endurance rally.
For MINI and MINI Motorsport partner X-raid, this was the first success since their winning run together, which lasted from 2012 to 2015.
The Spanish pair, in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy, finished 6:21 minutes ahead of last year’s winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) after roughly 7,500 kilometres through Saudi Arabia, which was hosting the Dakar for the first time.
Dakar record winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and his co-driver Paulo Fiuza (POR) finished third, 9:58 minutes behind Sainz and Cruz, to round off an impressive performance from the two MINI JCW Buggies.
The two MINI JCW Buggy crews each won four stages, while MINI vehicles went fastest on a total of nine of the twelve days. Vaidotas Zala (LTU) / Saulius Jurgelenas (LTU), in a MINI JCW Rally, won the very first Dakar stage on Arabian soil on the opening day.
Seven of the nine MINI crews that started the rally reached the finish in Al-Quiddia (KSA), four of them in the top ten. Orlando Terranova (ARG) and Bernardo ‘Ronnie’ Graue (ARG) finished in the top three on three days on their way to sixth place overall in the four-wheel drive MINI JCW Rally.
Local favourite Yasir Seaidan (KSA) and his co-driver Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) were ninth and finished an excellent second on the closing stage. Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski (POL) and co-driver Timo Gottschalk (GER) had their hopes of a top result dashed on the opening day when a technical issue resulted in them losing six hours. They eventually finished in 19th place, 8:35.18 seconds off the lead.
MINI vehicles topped the overall standings after every one of the twelve legs at the 40th staging of the Dakar Rally. Zala and Jurgelenas got the ball rolling with victory on the opening stage, after which Terranova and Graue took the overall lead on day two.
Sainz and Cruz claimed their first stage win on the third leg. That victory took them to the top of the overall standings – a position they held right through to the finish.
In case you're wondering, Sainz Sr here is the father of the F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr, who will be representing McLaren-Renault in this year's F1 calendar.