Carlos Sainz Sr. is a legend of early Nineties rally, an Extreme E team owner, and the father of a Ferrari Formula 1 driver. That may sound like the resume of someone long since retired from top-level competition, but on Friday, Carlos Sainz Sr. also became the winner of the 2024 Dakar Rally's car class.
At 61, Sainz has become the oldest winner in the rally's history. He was in a close battle with fellow WRC champion Sebastien Loeb for most of the event, but Loeb's Prodrive entry suffered major mechanical issues on Thursday's stage and Sainz went on to win by over an hour. Guillaume de Mevius finished second in a Toyota and Loeb settled for third in his Prodrive Hunter.
It is the fourth win for Sainz in the Dakar Rally, although his win in the 2008 Central European Rally that effectively replaced the canceled 2008 Dakar arguably makes five wins. Sainz has now won in both of the rally's relocated homes, Saudi Arabia and South America, in addition to his win in the semi-official event in Europe.
The win is also the first in event history for Audi. Despite dominating stage rallies and Pike's Peak in the Eighties, the brand's first major push to win Dakar started when it debuted a unique car powered by Formula E motors attached to a DTM engine in 2022. The actual RS Q E-Tron that won the race is a brutal and extreme purpose-built racer that shares nothing with an Audi road car, but the company does offer a special edition of its Q8 road car that brings some of the Dakar spirit to the road.
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