Peugeot’s Carlos Sainz Wins the 2018 Dakar Rally

Driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz overcame drama and penalties to win the 2018 Dakar Rally.

The 2018 Dakar Rally has surely been a memorable one. From the somersaulting duo of Bryce Menzies and Peter Mortensen to the no-rear-tires required team of Antanas Juknevičius and Darius Vaiciulis, the rally has taken its toll on the competitors. Through it all, driver Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz have won the 2018 Dakar Rally.

This isn’t Sainz first time in the winners’ circle at Dakar. It has been eight years since his first victory in 2010, although he has been driving in the Dakar since 1996. Sainz and Cruz were driving the Team Total Peugeot 3008 DKR for the 2018 event.

Although Sainz and his team took home the overall victory, the race was not without its drama. During the fourth Dakar stage from La Paz to Uyuni, Dakar quad racer Kees Koolen claimed that Sainz had hit his vehicle during the race. Dakar rules require drivers who witness an incident to stop and assist, and Koolen claimed that Sainz had not stopped after hitting him. Sainz was handed a 10-minute penalty. Koolen threatened legal action, but eventually, the 10-minute penalty was overturned by Dakar race stewards.

Going into the final stage of the Dakar, Sainz had a 46-minute advantage in front of second place Qatar driver Nasser al-Attiyah. Sainz only finished in ninth place for the final stage, but that kept him 43 minutes ahead of al-Attiyah. Third place went to South African driver Giniel de Villiers.

Sainz is the father of Renault Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr., and following the race, his son raved about Senior’s accomplishment on Twitter.

Sainz’ son was not the only one to applaud the Dakar winner as two-time Formula 1 champ and fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso also joined in.

“I’m so, so happy, after four years when we joined forces with Peugeot to make a dual-drive winning car. We managed to do it.” Sainz said “I had ups and downs, but I always tried my best. Especially this rally, it has been so, so hard. At the beginning I said we’ll take it a little bit easier, but Peugeot said we’d have to go flat out. I raced a couple of days and pushed really hard, but then the race was a case of not making mistakes. I don’t know if I’ll be back next year. Now I have to enjoy this victory, go back home, speak with my wife, with my family and then we will see. Also, Peugeot won’t be here next year so we will see”.