MOTORSPORT

Dakar Stage 12: A historic win for EVs

A fourth Dakar win for Sainz, Audi's first Dakar win, and the first time an alternative power unit has won.

Jordan Schmidt
January 22, 2024
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Dakar Stage 12: A historic win for EVs

  

The 2024 Dakar was far from a walk in the park. The closing stages of Dakar 2024 provided some of the most challenging driving conditions many of the drivers have ever encountered. Throughout this year's Dakar coverage, I have said time and time again that consistency is key when it comes to scoring well at the Dakar. You don’t need to be the fastest in each stage, but finishing in the top 10 every day will put you in a great position to compete for the title.

 

This year, Carlos Sainz Sr. has shown that, while he may not be as fast as drivers like Sebastien Loeb on certain stages, his ability to finish consistently in the top five has allowed him to walk away with his fourth Dakar title.

 

It was a tough rally for the Prodrive cars. They were quite clearly puncture magnets, with never-ending tyre replacements needed to complete the stages. Sebastien Loeb never failed to impress with his driving ability, and when things went his way, he was almost untouchable. Nasser Al-Attiyah's departure from the race further damaged the chances of a victory for the Prodrives.

 

On a local front, the South African drivers did well considering the difficult nature of this year's Dakar. Guy David Botterill finished in 6th overall, with Giniel de Villiers finishing one spot behind. Saood Variawa had a bumpy start to his Dakar campaign, encountering a few issues along the way. Nonetheless, his determination and adaptability enabled him to progress quickly and post some impressive times later in the event. He finished 17th overall, which is outstanding for the youngest driver in the Dakar.

 

The 2024 Dakar final results are as follows:

 

  1. 204, (ESP) CARLOS SAINZ, TEAM AUDI SPORT, 48H 15' 18'', 00H 01' 10''
  2. 221, (BEL) GUILLAUME DE MEVIUS, OVERDRIVE RACING, 49H 35' 43'', + 01H 20' 25''
  3. 203, (FRA) SEBASTIEN LOEB, BAHRAIN RAID XTREME, 49H 44' 30'', + 01H 29' 12'' 
  4. 211, (FRA) GUERLAIN CHICHERIT, OVERDRIVE RACING, 49H 51' 17'', + 01H 35' 59''
  5. 208, (CZE) MARTIN PROKOP, ORLEN JIPOCAR TEAM, 50H 32' 01'', + 02H 16' 43'' 
  6. 243, (ZAF) GUY DAVID BOTTERILL, TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 50H 55' 51'', + 02H 40' 33''
  7. 209, (ZAF) GINIEL DE VILLIERS, TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 51H 05' 44'', + 02H 50' 26''
  8. 223, (LTU) BENEDIKTAS VANAGAS, TOYOTA GAZOO RACING BALTICS, 51H 12' 35'', + 02H 57' 17''
  9. 206, (BRA) LUCAS MORAES, TOYOTA GAZOO RACING, 51H 18' 30'', + 03H 03' 12''
  10. 212, (FRA) MATHIEU SERRADORI, CENTURY RACING FACTORY TEAM, 51H 19' 30'', + 03H 04' 12''

 

To say that this year was brutal would be an understatement. We said an early goodbye to the Saudi local favourite, Yazeed Al Rajhi, after his car flipped on Stage 6. Nasser Al-Attiyah, on the other hand, suffered his share of mechanical faults, while none of the field was immune to their share of issues. Just finishing the Dakar proved a challenge of its own.  

 

It was an exciting Dakar, but the topic of debate is the winning power unit. This was Audi's first Dakar win and the first time an alternatively powered car has won the event. While I am a big admirer of the traditional rally noises, Audi, in all its mechanical silence, was undoubtedly impressive as it raked in its first Dakar win.   

 

What an amazing 12 days of racing it has been. For some, this was their inaugural Dakar experience, while for others, it marked the end of an era. Now that this remarkable and iconic race is nearing its conclusion, I thank you for following it with me.

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