ROSARIO, Argentina: Stephane Peterhansel won the Dakar Rally for the 12th time – sixth in a car – after a conservative drive on the 13th and final stage on Saturday.
Peterhansel took control of the world’s toughest rally on Wednesday, then avoided the problems his chasers endured, and won by 35 minutes overall from defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Giniel de Villiers of South Africa, the 2009 champ, was an hour back in third, and on the podium for the fifth time in the last six races.
“It’s extraordinary. The pressure was very high, but we came through,” Peterhansel said. “Crossing the finish line was a release after the extremely stressful last three days.
“Some of my wins count more than others, but this one’s definitely in the top three. One thing’s for sure, getting the same number of victories on a bike and in a car was the last big goal in my career. Now that it’s done, I don’t think there are many things left to motivate me.”
Peterhansel won his motorbike titles in the 1990s, switched to cars, and triumphed in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012, and 2013, all of them with co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret. They gave Peugeot, which returned to the Dakar two years ago, its first success since 1990.
They were 13th on the stage, a twisty 180 kilometers, before the convoy to Rosario.
It was won by teammate Sebastien Loeb, making his Dakar debut after nine world rally championships. Loeb won by a minute from Mikko Hirvonen, four times a runner-up to Loeb in the WRC.
Toby Price became the first Australian winner of the motorbikes class, almost 40 minutes ahead of KTM teammate Stefan Svitko of Slovakia. Pablo Quintanilla of Chile won the last stage and was third overall.
“I’m in shock, I never would’ve thought I could win this race in my second participation,” Price said.
“Being the first Australian to win the Dakar is just insane. Finishing the rally is already a triumph.”