Thursday, January 17
After 10 stages across the dunes of Peru the best offroad racers in the world have emerged victorious at the 2019 Dakar Rally. It’s been a bumpy ride of over 5,500 kilometres at the planet’s toughest test of motorsports endurance. Now every competitor crossing the finish line is in the mood to celebrate – none more so than the Red Bull Desert Wings athletes who conquered four categories at the Dakar.
It was a near flawless drive from Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA)who burst into an early lead in the car race. Al-Attiyah’s sand racing expertise came to the fore on this Dakar route that saw the convoy plunged into the dunes. At the finish line in Pisco the Qatari ace was celebrating a third Dakar title, and his first with Toyota.
“There’s been a lot of people working on this car for a long time, always believing we could win the Dakar. I’m so proud of these guys right now.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Sébastien Loeb (FRA) seemed like the driver most likely to overtake Al-Attiyah. The nine-time WRC winner picked up four stage victories at this Dakar, but a troublesome waypoint undid his tilt for the title. Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena (MON) finished third overall in their Peugeot 3008DKR, their second Dakar podium finish.
“I prefer to finish first rather than third, but it was a good fight.” – Sébastien Loeb
2018 FIA Cross County Rally World Cup winner Kuba Przygonski (POL) brought plenty of momentum into this edition of the Dakar. The Pole’s four-wheel drive MINI was competitive throughout and he just missed out on the podium with a fourth place result.
“The first week was perfect and then we had some problems. Then we made these last days in the dunes almost perfectly and made it back to fourth place.” – Kuba Przygonski
It was a tough debut for the X-raid MINI JCW Team despite boasting a superstar driving line-up of Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Cyril Despres (FRA). This trio came to Peru with 20 Dakar wins between them, but were unable to add another to their collective tally. Peterhansel crashed out on stage nine, while Despres and Sainz finished fifth and 13th respectively.
“I know how it feels to make a Dakar with no problems and it’s a pity it didn’t happen for us this time.” – Cyril Despres
Once it became clear that victory was not on the cards this year for Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) the former Dakar winner was committed to helping Al-Attiyah claim the win. De Villiers drove a selfless race to finish ninth overall, and assist his Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate to victory.
“All credit to Nasser and Mathieu. They didn’t put a foot wrong on this race. Other than ourselves winning, this is the next best result.” – Giniel De Villiers
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In the bike race it looked a tough ask for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team to collect an 18th consecutive Dakar win. Rival manufacturers such as Honda, Yamaha and Husqvarna threw everything they had to break KTM’s winning streak. Their efforts were in vain though as the serial bike race winners not only picked up the win, but also locked out all three podium places on a dramatic final stage.
It’s Toby Price (AUS) who is celebrating a second Dakar win in the bike race after a phenomenal ride. The Australian broke a bone in his wrist just before the trip to Peru, but somehow managed to smash through the pain barrier to take the win.
“The last six weeks have been a rollercoaster with my wrist injury and I never even thought I’d make it to the Rest Day. I just gritted my teeth and kept putting up with it. I’m glad I didn’t quit because the outcome has been well worth it.” – Toby Price
An unfortunate crash for Husqvarna biker Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) on stage 10 left the door open for Price’s KTM team-mates Matthias Walkner (AUT) and Sam Sunderland (GBR) to finish second and third respectively.
“The team spirit makes KTM so strong. Everybody knows what there is to do, it works perfectly together and it’s an amazing group.” – Matthias Walkner
The sheer quality of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team was further underlined by their two other bikers finishing strong. Young gun Luciano Benavides (ARG) was over the moon with his Top 10 finish while Laia Sanz (ESP) was the top placed female biker for the ninth time at the Dakar.
“I want to say thanks to my KTM team. Everybody stood by me when I couldn’t race earlier in the year and helped me to be here now.” – Laia Sanz
We also witnessed incredible performances from Daniel Nosiglia (BOL); a Top 10 finish, Mohammed Balooshi (ARE); a second consecutive Dakar finish and Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS) who completed the Dakar completely unassisted in the Original by Motul class.
“This was the toughest ever adventure for me. Two or three days ago I nearly quit, I was so tired. I even cried in the tent when nobody could see me. Now I’m at the finish line and I’m totally elated.” – Anastasiya Nifontova
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In the truck race we saw the continued dominance of Team Kamaz Master. Despite the early retirements of Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) and Andrey Karginov (RUS), the team still managed to secure a one-two finish. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) picked up his fourth win as a driver after a tough battle with team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) who finished second.
“I want to thank the organisers for coming up with such an interesting route. I love to drive in the dunes and we had lots of dunes this time.” – Eduard Nikolaev
It was a sensational return to the Dakar for Chaleco Lopez (CHI) who debuted in the side-by-side category after previously starring in the bike race. Lopez had to battle back from a tough end to the Dakar’s first week to stand any chance of finishing on the podium. As it happened, Lopez won the first three stages of the second week to take the overall lead. A position he held through to the conclusion of stage 10 as he tasted Dakar glory in Peru.
“I’m very happy that this new side-by-side adventure has been a success. I tried to win the Dakar on a bike many times and now I know how it feels to win the Dakar. The victory is perfect.” – Chaleco Lopez
It’s certainly been a Dakar to remember in Peru, only 179 vehicles made it back to Lima out of the 334 cars, bikes, trucks, SxS/UTVs and quads that entered the race. For anybody who completed all 10 stages the sensation is extreme satisfaction – and for the winners it’s all just that little bit sweeter.
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2019 Dakar Rally Car Race
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 34h38m14s
2019 Dakar Rally Bike Race
1. Toby Price (AUS) KTM 33h57m16s
2019 Dakar Rally Truck Race
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz 41h01m35s
2019 Dakar Rally SxS/UTV Race
1. Chaleco Lopez (CHI) Can-Am 42h19m05s
2019 Dakar Rally Quad Race
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) Yamaha 43h01m54s
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “It was a very hard race. I’m really happy to win this race. It was a fantastic job from the team. There’s been a lot of people working on this car for a long time, always believing we could win the Dakar. I’m so proud of these guys right now. My job was to bring the car home in first place and I’m so glad I could do my part.”
Sébastien Loeb: “I prefer to finish first rather than third, but it was a good fight. We were with Nasser (Al-Attiyah) for all of the rally. We had good speed, but too many problems. Now this is finished we go to Monte Carlo.”
Kuba Przygonski: “It was such a tough race and in the end we’ve done really good so we’re happy. We’re both tired after 10 long days of racing. The first week was perfect and then we had some problems. Then we made these last days in the dunes almost perfectly and we made it back to fourth place.”
Cyril Despres: “I know how it feels to make a Dakar with no problems and it’s a pity it didn’t happen for us this time. When you have no big mechanical problems and navigation is good there is nothing more enjoyable than the Dakar. The 2019 Dakar will not be too high up in my best memories of this race.”
Giniel De Villiers: “For the team and Nasser’s win I’m very happy. Unfortunately we had some bad luck on stage three, we hit a rock and that ended our own chance to win. All credit to Nasser and Mathieu. They didn’t put a foot wrong on this race. Other than ourselves winning, this is the next best result.”
Carlos Sainz: “A few days ago when we had to drive around 200 kilometres without the power steering I thought it was the end of our race. We got to the end of the stage that day and now we’ve made it to the finish line of another Dakar. The stages at this Dakar were quite repetitive and I would’ve liked a bit more variety.”
Toby Price: “This is so great and I really don’t know what to think. It seems like I’m in a fake world right now, a dream and in two weeks the Dakar will actually start. The last six weeks have been a rollercoaster with my wrist injury and I never even thought I’d make it to the Rest Day. I just gritted my teeth and kept putting up with it. I’m glad I didn’t quit because the outcome has been well worth it.”
Matthias Walkner: “The team spirit makes KTM so strong. Everybody knows what there is to do, it works perfectly together and it’s an amazing group.”
Sam Sunderland: “It’s always nice to finish the Dakar and all the guys have done a great job again. It was a tough race for everyone involved: the mechanics, the riders and the organisers. My bike was flawless throughout the race so I have to thank my mechanic for this. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get the result I worked for but this is racing. You have to take the rough with the smooth.”
Luciano Benavides: “I’m here at the end of the Dakar. I’ve finished in the Top 10 and this is really a great result for me. I got injured on stage 10 at the Dakar last year and broke five vertebrae. After that I needed to get back my confidence. Now to finish in the Top 10, it feels amazing and I’m so happy.”
Daniel Nosiglia: “It’s a dream come true to be among the 10 best riders at the Dakar. It’s something absolutely incredible for me. This means that next year I’ll be put into the elite category and my number will have a yellow background.”
Laia Sanz: “I’m so happy and surprised. This Dakar has been tough. My preparation was not great because I was sick and not training. After coming through this I could not be more happy. I want to say thanks to my KTM team. Everybody stood by me when I couldn’t race and helped me to be here now.”
Mohammed Balooshi: “It’s great to finish my second Dakar in row. I didn’t feel like I had one really good stage, but still to finish feels good. I picked up an injury on one of the first stages so I couldn’t show my best in the dunes. The mission was to bring the bike to the finish line everyday and I’m so pleased to have done this.”
Anastasiya Nifontova: “This was the toughest ever adventure for me. Two or three days ago I nearly quit, I was so tired. I even cried in the tent when nobody could see me. Now I’m at the finish line and I’m totally elated. I needed to conquer myself to finish this race and I did that. I also had to beat the terrain, the heat and fixing the bike myself and I did it!”
Eduard Nikolaev: “It has been such a difficult race. The route was so challenging on all of the 10 stages. I want to thank the organisers for coming up with such an interesting route. I love to drive in the dunes and we had lots of dunes this time.”
Dmitry Sotnikov: “It has been a good result for the team. Without the support of the entire team it’s impossible for Eduard (Nikolaev) to win and for me to come second.”
Chaleco Lopez: “I’m very happy that this new side-by-side adventure has been a success. I tried to win the Dakar on a bike many times and now I know how it feels to win the Dakar. The victory is perfect.”