Carlos Sainz has won the 2020 Dakar Rally with his Mini John Cooper Works Buggy, beating 2019 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in his Toyota Hilux Dakar by 6 minutes 21 secs after 7,500 kilometres of Saudi Arabian desert. It gives Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz their third Dakar win and the first for the John Cooper Works Buggy on its third attempt. Mini teammate and 13-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Paulo Fiuza took bronze, while Fernando Alonso also fared well on his Dakar debut by finishing 13th overall.
Those with sufficiently long memories will recall that Sainz won the World Rally Championship way back in 1990 and 1992. But the 57-year-old has defied middle-age by triumphing at Dakar, adding to his Dakar wins in 2010 and 2018 with a commanding 2020 victory. He took four stage wins during the event in the 350hp diesel-powered Mini, lending him a 10-minute buffer to Al-Attiyah at the final leg. The lead only shrank due to a conservative drive to the finish.
Although Toyota Gazoo didn't nab gold, its cars did make up four of the top seven finishers. Alonso, also driving for Toyota, impressed in his rookie event by finishing fourth in the final stage. The two-time Formula 1 champ almost took himself out of the running with a roll on stage 10 of 12, but salvaged a strong debut result with an otherwise consistent few days in the wilderness. America's Ricky Brabec won the bike class of the 2020 event, which was the first to take place in Saudi Arabia.
While this year's rally mostly featured machinery that had contested previous events, the truck class did feature the first hybrid-powered entrant. The Renault Trucks machine finished a lowly 20th in class, although the fact it completed the notoriously savage course is probably the most significant takeaway from its debut.