Spain's Carlos Sainz captures second Dakar Rally cars title

    20 de enero de 2018

    Cordoba, Argentina, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Spain's Carlos Sainz (Peugeot) wrapped up his second Dakar Rally cars title here Saturday, getting through the 14th and final stage without incident and handily besting Qatari second-place finisher Nasser al-Attiyah (Toyota) in the general classification.

    Sainz and co-pilot Lucas Cruz climbed on top of their vehicle after completing Saturday's 120-kilometer (74-mile) timed portion of a loop stage around this central city.

    Sainz finished the rally with an overall time of 49:16:18, 43 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of al-Attiyah.

    Third-place finisher Giniel De Villiers of South Africa won the last stage but in doing so only narrowed the gap between him and Sainz by three minutes and 19 seconds.

    Sainz won his first Dakar title in 2010 at the wheel of a Volkswagen. He said his second title, despite the huge gap on the clock, was not as easy as it looked.

    "Peugeot had already won (the Dakar car race) on two occasions, but we put in an incredible amount of work into the car over the past four years, and it's a well-deserved reward," the driver said.

    Sainz was unable to finish the race in 2016 and 2017, years in which French great Stephane Peterhansel won the title for Peugeot.

    Asked if he will compete in Dakar again in 2019, the 55-year-old Spaniard was non-committal, saying he first wanted to savor his victory and then return home and talk it over with his wife.

    Peugeot, which has announced that it will not compete in next year's Dakar, was not as dominant as in 2017 when it claimed all three podium spots.

    Sainz's teammates - Peterhansel (seven-time Dakar winner in the car category and six-time bikes champion), Sebastien Loeb and Cyril Despres - all suffered setbacks during the race that left them well out of contention.

    Peterhansel, the two-time defending champion, had to settle for fourth place.

    Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took to Twitter to congratulate Sainz on his second Dakar victory.

    "Congratulations to Carlos Sainz, @CSainz_oficial, on his victory in #Dakar2018, a perfect final touch to a career writ large in the history of Spanish sports," Rajoy wrote.

    The 2018 edition of the Dakar Rally was the 40th overall and the tenth successive edition to be held in South America.

    One of the most challenging competitions in recent years, less than half of the participants who started the race on Jan. 6 completed the 9,000-kilometer (5,592-mile) trek through parts of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.