Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah won the Dakar Rally car crown for the fifth time on Sunday while Argentine KTM rider Kevin Benavides triumphed on two wheels to take his second title in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Attiyah, the reigning champion for Toyota with French co-driver Mathieu Baumel, finished the final 14th stage to Dammam on the Gulf coast with a lead of an hour and 20 minutes over France’s nine-times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb.
The Qatari, who led from stage three as rivals hit trouble, now ranks second in the list of all-time winners in the car category behind eight times champion Stephane Peterhansel of France.
Peterhansel, the “Mr Dakar” who retired from this year’s edition after crashing his electric hybrid Audi, has also won the motorcycle crown six times.
“It was really a tough Dakar for everybody but we managed to win again. It’s amazing to defend our title. I am happy to win five times, Mathieu four times now,” said Al-Attiyah.
“We need to keep going and to win more and more. We finished Dakar and we try to defend our world championship,” added the reigning FIA Rally-Raid (W2RC) world champion.
“We didn’t need to really push, to be crazy. We need to accept what we get. Just to finish and win the Dakar is very important to me.”
Loeb had won a record six stages in a row up to Sunday for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team but compatriot Guerlain Chicherit took the final honours in Dammam.
Brazilian rookie Lucas Moraes finished third overall in a Toyota Hilux for Overdrive Racing.