Carlos Sainz wins 2024 Dakar Rally as Audi marks its maiden victory

Carlos Sainz wins 2024 Dakar Rally as Audi marks its maiden victory

Carlos Sainz secured a record-breaking fourth victory after winning the 2024 Dakar Rally also marking Audi Sports’ first-ever triumph in the event’s history.

Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz, driving an Audi RS Q e-Tron, easily won Stage 12 and finished first in the Dakar 2024 after Sebastien Loeb was eliminated from contention in yesterday’s Stage 11, marking Sainz’s fourth victory in the challenging off-road race event.

Crucially, Sainz/Cruz made it to the finish line, allowing the legendary Spanish rally driver to win his fourth Dakar after victories in 2010, 2018, and 2020. Additionally, Audi won its first championship in the 46th running of the grueling off-road race event.

It’s a remarkable achievement for Sainz, who is 61 years old and it solidifies his status as one of the Dakar greats.

Amazingly, Sainz won the 12-stage series with a consistently strong showing despite not winning even a single stage. A further noteworthy breakthrough for the drivers and the team is that the Audi is the first car to win the Dakar Rally with an alternative drivetrain.

With the outcome, Audi has a suitable farewell from Dakar, since it appears that it will discontinue its factory program to fully focus on its anticipated Formula 1 partnership with Sauber in 2026.

Audi Sport topped the standings with a time of 48 hours, 15 minutes, and 18 seconds. Guillaume De Mevius’s Overdrive Racing was in second place overall, more than an hour and twenty minutes behind the leaders.

Loeb took the lead at km 70 and was soon in pursuit of Guillaume de Mevius/Xavier Panseri for second place overall.

The race for Stage 12 seemed meaningless as a result of Sainz’s efforts to widen the time gap, but Loeb would go on to win the last stage—his fifth of the competition this year—and as the hours passed, the top three riders fell into a predictable order.

Loeb, who remains in contention for his first Dakar victory, ended up third overall following his hour-long setback due to suspension damage yesterday.

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Overdrive Racing’s Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq  launched an attack at 06:37 local time to win a third stage after taking the lead in two consecutive stages. At the start of the special, Chicherit and Winocq trailed Loeb by just five minutes, and they would ultimately finish in fourth place overall, only coming in a spot away from the overall podium.

Overdrive was able to edge out the Toyota factory squad thanks to a strong performance by T1+ rookie de Mevius, who surprised everyone by winning the first stage in his customer Hilux.

The works Toyota squad could have still placed in the top three with Lucas Moraes leading the charge, but with only 60km remaining on Stage 11 the Brazilian pulled out of the race and spent two hours fixing his car.

MP Sports Ford’s Martin Prokop reached a career-high fifth place in the Dakar, as the Czech driver mounted an incredible comeback from a horribly painful first stage that had dropped him to 45th.

Guy Botterill proved to be the best of the five factory Toyota drivers after finishing in sixth place, two hours and forty minutes behind the overall winner. Giniel de Villiers was next in seventh place, while Moraes’ issues forced him to fall to ninth place, trailing Benediktas Vanagas’ Toyota Baltics entry.

Seth Quintero, another member of the Toyota team, got his first T1+ experience marred by having to withdraw from Stage 4 due to unexpected reliability issues despite placing third in Stage 2.

Ford was on the verge of a top 10 finish in its inaugural Ranger run up until Nani Roma’s engine problems forced him to quit from Stage 7 of the rally, before returning the following day.

Matthieu Serradori ultimately took 10th place in his two-wheel drive Century CR6-T although the Frenchman experienced his own late drama during the penultimate test.

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