Lima – Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah cruised to his third Dakar Rally title on Thursday with a 46-minute cushion over second-placed Nani Roma at the end of the world’s toughest rally in Lima.
An Olympic medallist in shooting at the 2012 London Games, al-Attiyah had enough in hand to avoid taking any risks in his Toyota on the 10th and final stage from Pisco to the Peruvian capital, crossing the line a sedate 12th behind Carlos Sainz, the 2018 champion.
“Everybody wants to win the Dakar. But we felt when we came that in Peru, a 100-percent Peru rally, with no other country, there would be a lot of sand dunes, so we could do what we know we’re good at,” said al-Attiyah.
France’s former nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb took third in the overall standings, almost two hours behind the Qatari whose previous wins came in 2011 and 2015.
Al-Attiyah laid down his marker for 2019 honours when rising to the top of the time sheets after the first stage.
And after winning his third stage of this year’s event on Wednesday for his 34th career stage win the title was his, barring final-day disaster.
“It’s fantastic,” added the 48-year-old Qatari. “No mistakes during the entire rally. It was a very, very difficult rally for everybody.
“The good thing was that from day three we were leading and we built on our time everyday until we came to the last day with a big, big lead.”
Stephane Peterhansel, a 13-time Dakar Rally champion, had to quit the race early on Wednesday’s penultimate stage when sitting fourth overall.
Toby Price clinched his second Dakar bikes title, the Australian following up his 2016 crown with success in the 10th and final stage.
The KTM rider seized overall command of the bikes category on Tuesday and after crossing the finish line in Lima he took the 2019 honours by over nine minutes from his teammate and defending champion Matthias Walkner.
Price wrapped up his second title in style, taking the closing stage from Pisco to the Peruvian capital with a near two-and-a-half minute advantage over Chilean rider Jose Cornejo.
Victory was achieved despite Price having suffered a broken bone in his wrist.
“I’m so damned stoked. It’s been a long 10 days. Now I’ll just wait and see what damage I’ve done to my wrist,” said 31-year-old Price.
“The pain and torture has been worth it. I thought I would only be able to do two stages and then pull out and that would have been me done, but the support from everyone back home in Australia and then having some things go my way and a bit of luck, it just worked out in the end.
“Pretty much all I can say is that it feels like there are about five people driving a knife in my wrist now.”
This was an 18th consecutive bikes title for Austrian bike manufacturer KTM.