(Reuters) – Spaniard Carlos Sainz became a triple Dakar Rally champion with the Mini X-Raid team on Friday while American Ricky Brabec took the motorcycle crown for Honda and ended KTM’s 18-year dominance.
Both are the first winners in Saudi Arabia, a country making its debut as host of the grueling endurance event, but have to reach the formal finish in Qiddiya before the results are official.
Brabec is the first American to win the Dakar in any category since it started as a race from Paris through the Sahara desert to the Senegalese capital in West Africa in 1979.
Two times world rally champion Sainz, whose son and namesake races in Formula One for McLaren, ended the final timed stage with a six minute and 21 seconds advantage over Qatar’s defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah.
Sainz, 57, also won in 2010 and 2018 when the rally was held in South America.
His three victories have been with different car manufacturers, the first coming with Volkswagen and the second in a Peugeot.
Triple champion Al Attiyah won the final stage to finish as overall runner-up for Toyota with Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, a 13 times winner on two and four wheels, completing the top three in his 31st Dakar.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)