Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Carlos Sainz wins Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia as Fernando Alonso finishes back in 13th place

Veteran Spanish driver victorious in marathon event for third time

Veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz won the Dakar Rally for the third time on Friday, finishing with a comfortable winning margin in the first running of the event in Saudi Arabia.

The 57-year-old crossed the line in the 12th and final stage 6min 21sec ahead of nearest challenger and reigning champion Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar, who had managed to cut Sainz's lead to just 24 seconds on Tuesday but fell back after navigation errors.

"I feel very happy. There's a lot of effort behind this. A lot of training, practice," Sainz said.

"It has been a flat out rally since the beginning. It was fantastic, a first time in Saudi Arabia, of course you can always improve but it was a fantastic effort."

Asked about defending his title next year, Sainz said: "It's too early to think about it, let me enjoy this."

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished 13th in his Dakar debut, a distant 4hr 42min 47sec behind the winner.

Sainz, the father of F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr., seized control of the race from the third stage in his X-raid Mini.

He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018.

Stephane Peterhansel was third at 9min 58sec behind in his Mini. Both the Frenchman and Sainz won four stages in the marathon 12-day, 7,800km race.

Ricky Brabec triumphed in the motorbike section for Honda, becoming the first US rider to win the gruelling race.

Alonso notched one stage victory on his Dakar debut but his first participation was a bruising affair as the 38-year-old Spaniard suffered a double rollover in the 10 stage after hitting a dune at an awkward angle.

The race was marred by the death of Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves during Sunday's seventh stage.

Updated: January 17, 2020 03:00 PM

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