CÓRDOBA, Argentina: Spanish veteran Carlos Sainz clinched overall victory in the 2018 Dakar Rally on Sunday, finishing safely after the 14th and final stage around Cordoba in Argentina for his second win in the race.
The 55-year-old, the father of Renault Formula One driver Carlos Sainz Jr, ended atop the overall standings ahead of a pair of Toyota drivers — two-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Giniel de Villiers in third.
South African De Villiers won the final stage to ensure he completed the podium ahead of defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, who had seen his top-three hopes all but ended when he hit a tree and lost 40 minutes on Saturday.
Finishing ninth on the day, Sainz retained a huge 43min 40sec advantage on arrival at the end of the 40th edition.
“That was the toughest of all the Dakar Rallies I have raced, but I put the foot down where I had to and maintained my concentration,” Sainz said.
Having only finished the rally once since his first win in 2010, Sainz put in a steady performance on the sand dunes, explaining “the strategy was to take it easy there” before powering into a clear lead on the high-speed stages.
“We worked very hard for this win, to make a car like that, the whole team pulling together,” he added.
The 1990 and 1992 world rally champion became the oldest winner in the history of the event after starting as an outsider, only to lead right through the second week of his 11th participation.
“I’ll go home and have a long think about it,” Sainz said when asked if he would race again.
It is also a third win in four races for Peugeot, who have said they will not race next year.
“Peugeot won twice with Stephane Peterhansel in (2016 and 2017) so I owed them this victory,” Sainz said.