204 SAINZ Carlos (spa), CRUZ Lucas (spa), Team Audi Sport, Audi RS Q E-Tron E2, FIA Ultimate, FIA W2RC, action at the finish line of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia – Photo Marcin Kin / DPPI

Key points:
➢ The 46th edition of the Dakar, the 5th to be organised in Saudi Arabia, has finished after
more than 4,700 kilometres of specials and a total distance of almost 8,000 kilometres,
which tested the riders, drivers, co-pilots and crews, from the ancient city of AlUla to the
shores of the Red Sea, passing through the oceans of dunes in the Empty Quarter.
➢ The major winners of the 2024 edition have each, in their own way, taken advantage of
teams capable of building success based on their collective strength. Among the
favourites in the Monster Energy Honda clan, American Ricky Brabec won a second title
following his triumph in 2020, by resisting Ross Branch on his Hero, the first Indian bike
to grace the Dakar podium, onto which Adrien Van Beveren climbed for the first time in
his career, with third place, also riding a Honda.
➢ In the car category, there was an unexpected consecration for the hybrid Audi driven by
Carlos Sainz. In his duel with Sébastien Loeb, who in the end finished 3rd, the Spaniard
picked up his fourth title thanks partially to the back-up provided by his team-mates
Stéphane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekström, as El Matador finished with a lead of 1 hour
and 20 minutes over Belgian Guillaume de Mevius.
➢ On the final stage, the battle in the Challenger class was turned on its head, to the
detriment of Mitch Guthrie and in favour of Cristina Gutiérrez, who became the first
female driver to win a Dakar title since Jutta Kleinschmidt in 2001.
➢ In the SSV category, Xavier de Soultrait also won by the narrowest of margins, having
failed to win in his career on a motorbike but taking victory in a Polaris driving for the
Sébastien Loeb Racing team, which will be a small consolation for the man from Alsace.
➢ Lastly, thanks to Martin Macík, the truck category witnessed the Czech Republic’s grand
return to the summit of the rally, 23 years after the country’s last triumph was earned by
Karel Loprais, whose nephew Aleš Loprais finished as runner-up to Macík.
➢ In total, 239 vehicles (versus 340 that took starter’s orders) reached Yanbu, including 96
bikes (vs 132), 7 quads (vs 10), 55 Ultimate class cars (vs 70), 3 Stock class cars (vs 3),
29 Challenger class cars (vs 42), 28 SSVs (vs 36) and 21 trucks (vs 47). Among them, the
riders, drivers and crews of 182 vehicles were able to climb onto the final podium to
receive a finisher’s medal, with the remainder not having completed the entirety of the
➢ Finally, the 4th edition of the Dakar Classic, which brought together 78 vehicles, finished
with 71 crews. Spaniard Carlos Santaolalla Milla won the race for regularity. The Mission
1000 terrains challenge enabled 10 vehicles powered by innovative alternative engine
technologies to tackle the of the Dakar and look ahead to the future.

BRANCH Ross (bwa), Hero Motorsports Team Rally, Hero, Motul, Moto, FIM W2RC, BRABEC Ricky (usa), Monster Energy Honda Team, Honda, Motul, Moto, FIM W2RC, VAN BEVEREN Adrien (fra), Monster Energy Honda Team, Honda, Moto, Motul, FIM W2RC, portrait finish line, arrivee, during the Stage 12 of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 around Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

Rally GP: an unshakeable performance by Brabec
Ricky Brabec took the lead on the rally in the dunes of the Empty Quarter on the formidable 48 HR
Chrono stage, which drove plenty of riders into a corner, and held on to first place all the way to Yanbu
to pick up his second triumph on the Dakar. This year’s success was even more tasty than four years
previously, because Ross Branch pushed him all the way. To help him resist, Brabec was able to count
on the support of his team-mates, particularly Adrien Van Beveren who often opened with the
Californian. The Frenchman took advantage of this teamwork to finish third and climb onto the podium
for the first time in nine participations, which was a deliverance for the man who claims to live, breathe
and train all year long for the Dakar… Van Beveren owes his success not only to the progress he has
made on rocky terrain but also to his Honda which allowed him to confidently attack from start to finish.
The Japanese constructor put two of its representatives on the podium to pick up its eighth success on
the Dakar. What’s more, if it was not for a fuel pump problem towards the end of the rally, Nacho Cornejo
may also have been able to join his team-mates on an entirely red podium. In order to do so, he and
Van Beveren would have had to have toppled the heroic Hero rider Ross Branch. The hard-nosed man
from Botswana was a candidate for overall victory right up to the finish, even though he had been
deprived of his team-mates, who dropped out one after another due to falls or mechanical problems.
Branch led during the first week before being overtaken by Brabec who was coming into top form.
Nevertheless, the native of Botswana has offered the African continent a podium finish for the first time
since Alfie Cox took third place in 2005. Furthermore, thanks to Ross Branch, Hero has become the
first Indian constructor to feature on the Dakar podium. It was an edition to forget for all the KTMs,
broadly speaking. The Benavides brothers, Toby Price and Daniel Sanders were never able to contest
the domination exerted by the Honda riders. Since 2020, KTM has always put one of its riders on the
podium, which means this year’s performance is a blow for the constructor. What’s more, it is the first
time since 1993 that no European constructors are on the final podium.

VAN BEVEREN Adrien (fra), Monster Energy Honda Team, Honda, Moto, Motul, FIM W2RC, CASTERA David (fra), Directeur du Dakar, portrait finish line, arrivee, during the Stage 12 of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 around Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

Rally 2: India steps up to the plate
The Rally 2 class was also full of surprises and new names. After having shone during the first week,
Jean-Loup Lepan and Romain Dumontier flagged before reaching Yanbu. The former lost time
following a navigation error and the latter did likewise due to the consequences of a broken exhaust.
The two Frenchmen’s misfortune smiled, however, on Harith Noah. The Indian rider, who was the only
remaining Sherco representative at the finishing line, gathered momentum throughout the second week
to take the lead in the category just before the finish to score a historical success because it is the first
Indian triumph on the Dakar. Noah claims to have obtained this victory without focusing on the result,
simply by concentrating on his riding to make sure he reached the finishing line of each stage. This
winning formula also worked for Tobias Ebster, the best rookie and the sensation of the Dakar 2024.
The young nephew of Heinz Kinigadner triumphed in the Original by Motul category for unassisted
bikers and even managed to finish his first Dakar in the overall top 20 for the bikes, a remarkable feat.
In the quad category, the fight for victory was played out between Manuel Andújar and Alexandre
Giroud. This time the Frenchman, who won the last two editions, finished as runner-up to the
Argentinean, who last won the rally in 2021.

204 SAINZ Carlos (spa), CRUZ Lucas (spa), Team Audi Sport, Audi RS Q E-Tron E2, FIA Ultimate, FIA W2RC, action finish line, arrivee, during the Stage 12 of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 around Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

Not many observers were ready to bet on a happy end for Audi’s adventure on the Dakar. When it
decided in 2022 to embark on the daring gamble of leading a hybrid vehicle to success, the German
constructor made a strong impact by hiring Stéphane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Mattias
Ekström. It then made a very good first impression by immediately winning 4 stages, with the Spanish
champion the first driver that year to give shape to such an ambitious technological revolution. Perhaps
it was a sign of destiny, even when the RS Q e-Tron cars went through lean times, specifically on the
2023 vintage, when only one of the three vehicles, driven by Ekström, made it to the finish in 14th place
in the general rankings. The rest of the season was not much better, despite the single Audi victory
obtained by ‘Peter’ in Abu Dhabi. The trio even seemed somewhat down in the dumps on arriving in
AlUla. Everything changed in the Empty Quarter, which Carlos Sainz approached without having made
the slightest mistake before resisting the difficulties of the 48 HR Chrono stage while all his rivals were
scattered all over the place: Yazeed Al Rajhi rolled his car and exited the race, Nasser Al Attiyah
plummeted out of the reckoning on his favourite terrain, though Sébastien Loeb breathed new life into
his quest for overall victory and represented a genuine threat for week two.
The promised duel indeed took place and both El Matador and the hunter from Alsace hit stumbling
blocks, especially on stage 10. While Carlos was able to take advantage of support from his two teammates, who were distanced in the general rankings but still able to provide a reassuring convoy for their
team leader, Seb, forced to embark on a risky high-speed chase, eventually failed in his comeback, yet
he did manage to save a place (3rd) on the final podium in extremis, the 5th of his career in eight
participations. Arriving in Yanbu as the four-ringed brand’s hero, Sainz sealed a fourth victory on the
Dakar, putting him on par with Ari Vatanen in the history books, but having won with four different
constructors (Volkswagen, Mini, Peugeot and Audi) over a 14-year period!
Between Sainz’s Audi and Loeb’s Prodrive Hunter, a third brand climbed onto the podium (a first since
2019), but it was not driven by the most expected pretender at this level. Following the departure of Al
Attiyah, Toyota were considerably counting on Yazeed Al Rajhi to pick up the torch, but that came to
nothing. Instead, Guerlain Chicherit was among those best placed to finally achieve consecration,
though a poor start with a time loss of 1 hour and 30 minutes on stage 4 put paid to his chances.
Nevertheless, the man from Savoy managed to bounce back in a battling manner to obtain the best
finish of his career, at the foot of the podium, with two stage wins under his belt. Above all, Chicherit
can be delighted that his team recruited their own prodigal son, young Belgian driver Guillaume de
Mevius, who, also behind the wheel of a Hilux, reached the second step of the final podium on his first
participation in the queen category. In the Toyota clan (combining Overdrive and Gazoo Racing) this will
have helped to swallow the rather bitter pill of Seth Quintero’s lukewarm debut (40th) or the tumble
down the general rankings from 3rd to 9th place suffered by Lucas Moraes two days from the finish.
The top ten places were at a premium at the end of this week, because behind Martin Prokop, the 3rd
former WRC driver in the top 5, the five other members of the elite were all within a 25-minute time
bracket and all changed positions during the last three days: for better for Guy Boterill (6th), Giniel de
Villiers (7th) and Benediktas Vanagas (8th), but for worse for Moraes (9th) and Mathieu Serradori
(10th). For the third best placed Frenchman, it will be scant consolation that he finished with the title for
two-wheel drive cars, given that he was still in 6th place at the start of stage 11.

601 MACIK Martin (cze), TOMASEK Frantisek (cze), SVANDA David (cze), MM Technology Team, Iveco Powerstar, FIA Truck, finish line, arrivee, during the Stage 12 of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 around Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The Czech Republic flag fluttering in the breeze above the Lac Rose is a classic image from the 1990s,
an era synonymous with the Tatra driven by Karel Loprais, who picked up his last triumph in 2001.
Back home, to pick up the torch, his countrymen were naturally counting on his nephew, Aleš Loprais,
who has come near to triumph without ever obtaining consecration (3rd in 2007, 4th in 2015, 5th in 2019-
21). In the end, it was Martin Macík who put his country back at the top of the truck category, with plenty
of panache. And yet, at first nobody had seemed able to beat Janus van Kasteren in the fight for the
title, not even Aleš Loprais, his main rival last year before a premature exit. Loprais tried valiantly at
the beginning of the race, but van Kasteren was always a step ahead. As for Macík, he took time to
warm up. After having been distanced by three quarters of an hour by the evening of stage 4, he
displayed patience, waiting to pounce on his rivals’ slightest mistakes. As the saying goes, time comes
to he who waits. During the 48 HR Chrono stage, the sixth stage which was contested over two days
and which Macík deemed to be the hardest out of his 12 participations on the Dakar, Loprais lost more
than 1 hour in the dunes of the Empty Quarter. The sanction was almost three times as bad for van
Kasteren, crushing the Dutchman’s hopes of defending his title. This propelled Macík to the top of the
general rankings. Behind the wheel of his faithful Iveco affectionately nicknamed ‘Cenda’, Macík
featured in the top three for each of the stages since day five of the rally. With four stage wins under his
belt and a lead of almost 2 hours on arrival in Yanbu, the crew of ‘Cenda’ ultimately enjoyed an
untroubled second week of the race.

306 GUTIERREZ HERRERO Cristina (spa), MORENO HUETE Pablo (spa), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA by BFG, Taurus T3 Max, Motul, FIA Challenger, portrait during the Final Podium of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The disqualification of Eryk Goczał and his uncle Michał, as well as the withdrawal of his father Marek,
completely changed the fight for the title in the Challenger class. On the evening of the rest day, Mitch
Guthrie found himself in the lead in the general rankings, twenty minutes ahead of Cristina Gutiérrez,
his nearest pursuer. With a win on stage 7 and a podium finish the following day, Guthrie was managing
to maintain a sufficient time cushion to control the race up to the end of the rally and the victory which
seemed within his grasp. After all, it would have been no less than a fair reward for the man who
developed the initial version of the Taurus T3 Max. However, as the saying goes, the race is never over
until the last finishing line has been crossed and it proved to be true once again in the most unpredictable
manner. Guthrie only had 174 kilometres left to cover to succeed his countryman Austin Jones on the
Dakar throne, but this was without taking into account the mechanical problem that occurred just seven
kilometres into the special. Helped by his co-pilot Kellon Walch, he managed to resume racing, but his
lead soon dropped to a little more than 1’30’’. This heavy toll rapidly became heavier as the stage went
on, on a special that soon turned in Gutiérrez’s favour. “If something happens behind you, you never
know… I pushed myself until the finish,” explained the Spaniard. “One of my values is to never give up”.
Guthrie tried to save the day, but the transmission of his Taurus decided otherwise. He eventually
reached the finish more than half an hour after his rival and will have to console himself with the second
place on the final podium, which was completed by Rokas Baciuška who, one year ago, lost the Dakar
in similar circumstances in the SSV category. Gutiérrez has become the second woman to win a title
on the Dakar following Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was the quickest of the elite cars in 2001.

601 MACIK Martin (cze), TOMASEK Frantisek (cze), SVANDA David (cze), MM Technology Team, Iveco Powerstar, FIA Truck, 602 LOPRAIS Ales (cze), VALTR Jr Jaroslav (cze), STROSS Jiri (cze), Instaforex Loprais Praga, Praga V4S DKR, FIA Truck, 603 VAN DEN BRINK Mitchel (nld), VAN DE POL Jarno (spa), TORRALLARDONA Moises (spa), Eurol Rallysport, Iveco 4×4 DRNL, FIA Truck, during the Final Podium of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Xavier De Soultrait and his co-pilot Martin Bonnet can stop holding their breath now that they have
made it to the finish. Nonetheless, it was a close thing for the two Frenchman in their Polaris. For this
Dakar, the American factory went one step further, developing a lighter, sharper, higher-performance
RZR PRO R. The recipe worked from the outset, with the Sébastien Loeb Racing (SLR) duo taking
victory on the prologue to give a foretaste of what was to come. De Soultrait was a regular and
consistent performer and also took advantage of the ups and downs experienced by some of his rivals,
such as Gerard Farrés, to make his way to the top of the race hierarchy, which he reached on the
evening of stage 7. With three victories to his name, João Ferreira did try to play spoilsport, but the
Portuguese driver lost more than an hour at the end of stage 9. After respectively winning stages 10 and
11, Sara Price and Jérôme de Sadeleer then placed themselves among the contenders. Following a
penalty on stage 10, ‘XDS’ only had a lead of a little more than ten minutes over the American, who put
herself out of the race for the title the following day by losing more than one hour due to a navigation
mistake. As for de Sadeleer, he almost succeeded in his mission by coming to within three minutes of
the leader with 174 kilometres left before the finish. However, like an old Dakar veteran, de Soultrait
held on. He did not let his Swiss rival out of his sight and in the end only lost around twenty seconds
overall. As a result, he has won his first tile on the Dakar. To complete an already rich harvest for the
Polaris camp, Florent Vayssade, de Soultrait’s team-mate, won the final special stage. It was a
successful gamble for Polaris, who put an end to an almost unchallenged reign by Can-Am.

Rally2 podium: 20 KOITHA VEETTIL Harith Noah (ind), Sherco Factory, Sherco, Motul, Moto, FIM W2RC, DUMONTIER Romain (fra), Team Dumontier Racing, Husqvarna, Moto, FIM W2RC, during the Final Podium of the Dakar 2024 on January 19, 2024 in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

The 4th edition of the Dakar Classic has been won by a Spaniard by the name of Carlos. Not Sainz, but
Santaolalla Milla, a fierce competitor like ‘El Matador’ and one who has been chasing victory for three
editions. Following 6th in 2022 and 2nd last year, this year, with his Toyota HDJ 80, the other Carlos
dominated an edition that will go down as one of the most hotly contested since its creation. Challenged
by Ondřej Klymčiw in the first week, another regular in the consolation places like Carlos, it was then
Lorenzo Traglio who threatened to come back to within a point of the Spaniard with two days to go.
Both the Czech’s Škoda and the Italian’s Nissan Pathfinder suffered minor mechanical problems. That
is a detail that cannot be forgiven when fighting against an ‘80’. Carlos Santaolalla Milla and Jan Rosa
I Vinas therefore won in Yanbu. No title holder has yet managed to retain the title on the Dakar Classic,
but the Spaniards look like they could become serial success collectors, just like their countryman from
Madrid. See you in 2025!