The Dakar Rally tends to be dominated in eras. In the decade since the event moved from North Africa to South America, Volkswagen took three back-to-back victories, then Mini took four, and now Peugeot has claimed its third trophy in a row.
This time it was two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz – father of his namesake F1 driver – who took the win in the 3008 DKR, handily defeating not only his teammate Stephane Peterhansel (who won the last two years), but also Toyota‘s Nasser Al-Attiyah.
“It was a very difficult rally for me. It’s probably been the most difficult Dakar that I’ve ever taken part in, even counting the ones in Africa,” said Sainz on the victory. “Of course, it’s very satisfying for Lucas and me to win such a difficult rally. And the same applies to the whole Peugeot team, which has done a fantastic job throughout the entire programme.”
Ultimately the Peugeot drivers won 25 out of the total 48 stages – of which Sainz only took two. But that was enough to put him 44 minutes ahead of Attiyah – especially after a controversial penalty resulting from an incident with a quad-bike rider was later rescinded.
Elsewhere, the Russian team of Eduard Nikolaev, Evgeny Yakovlev, and Vladimir Rybakov took their second consecutive victory in their Kamaz 4326. Austrian rider Matthias Walkner won the bikes category in the KTM 450 – the same essential model that has won eight years running, from the same manufacturer that has won every year since 2001. Chilean rider Ignacio Casale won the quad category with Yamaha.
“Peugeot ends its Dakar campaign in the best possible way thanks to a fantastic victory from Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz and the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi, on a Dakar Rally that will go down in history,” said Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin. “To take three consecutive victories on such a complicated event is an exceptional achievement that is as much down to our very high technical level as it is to our unfailing team spirit.”
This will be the final Dakar for Peugeot, which won the past three years after a failed first attempt in 2015. The same French manufacturer previously dominated the event between 1987 and 1990 with Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen behind the wheel. And it may yet come back again some day, but until then, it’ll be up to another team to dominate. (We’re looking at you, Toyota.)