Sainz staved off a fierce challenge from Prodrive’s Sebastien Loeb to claim top honours in the 46th edition of Dakar Rally, beating Overdrive’s Guillaume de Mevius by 1h20m as Loeb slipped to third in the final classification.
The result marked the Spaniard’s fourth triumph in the world’s most prestigious rally-raid after previous successes with Volkswagen, Peugeot and Mini, and puts him third behind Stephane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah in the list of drivers with most wins.
More impressively, Sainz managed to accomplish this feat in his early 60s, beating his own record from 2020 when he won Dakar on its first visit to Saudi Arabia at the age of 58.
The significance of the result was not lost on Sven Quandt, the manager of Audi’s Dakar partner Q Motorsport, who heaped praise on Sainz for belying his age and winning one of the world’s toughest motorsport events across all disciplines.
“When he arrived at the bivouac he was very positive, and that infected the whole team. Of course he’s old, but he’s still at the top of his game,” he said.
“That this guy is incredible at his age and that if he feels like it he can still achieve many more victories on the Dakar. We’ve known each other for a long time and mutual trust is another key to this success.”
Photo by: Audi Communications Motorsport
#204 Team Audi Sport Audi RS Q e-tron E2: Carlos Sainz Sr, Lucas Cruz
Sainz was able to take part in Dakar 2024 after recovering from multiple spine fractures that he sustained in a crash at last year’s event.
While Stephane Peterhansel fell by the wayside early on and Mattias Ekstrom also dropped out of contention with problems on Stage 8, Sainz had a relatively smooth run in the other remaining Audi as he held onto the lead he inherited on Stage 6 after Overdrive’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi retired from the rally.
Sainz’s victory also provided a fitting send-off for Audi, which is expected to exit cross-country rallying after three seasons with the RS Q e-tron in order to step up its preparations for its Formula 1 entry in 2026.
Asked what his victory meant to him, the Spaniard said: “It was a victory in a very competitive edition, with a very special car, with the fourth brand [with which he gets the victory].
“It means a lot to me, and also to make history with this type of car makes me very happy for Audi, in the last bullet we had we got it, and I’m delighted, we have to thank them for their confidence, this is it.”
Sainz has been an annual presence in Dakar since 2006, with this year marking his 17th participation in the event across its three eras in Europe/Africa, South America and Saudi Arabia.
Asked if the 2024 Dakar had been the most special to him, he said: “It has been tremendously hard, the result says so. The car makes it special.
“It was a very difficult start, coming from an injury, with two fractured vertebrae, recovering and being here winning is a satisfaction and for me to be part of this new history that Audi has achieved in this race, very happy to participate in it and grateful to everyone.”