Motor Sport

Bahrain races to glory

January 21 - 28 , 2020

Gulf Weekly Bahrain races to glory

The Bahrain JCW X-Raid roared into victory in the off-road odyssey that was the 2020 Dakar Rally held in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Competitors across five categories were pushed to their limit over 12 stages of 7,500km of unforgiving terrain.

In the car race, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who raced for Bahrain JCW X-Raid team, secured his third Dakar title with his co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP). The champions put their Mini Buggy in pole position on Stage 3 and stayed on top of the general classification all the way to Qiddiya. They finished the rally in forty two hours and fifty nine seconds. Sainz said: “It makes the victory even nicer when the battle is so tough. On top of that I win in a third different car, I’m very proud of that.”

El Matador Sainz was pushed all the way by Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA). The Spanish champion needed to call on all his off-road experience and expertise to keep the challengers at bay. At the conclusion of Stage 12, Al-Attiyah was in second overall and Peterhansel third. This trio now has a grand total of 19 Dakar wins between them.

The Bahrain-sponsored winning team also included Peterhansel and his co-driver Paulo Fiúza.

Also equipping himself well on Dakar’s debut in the Middle East was Giniel De Villiers (ZAF). A fifth place finish for the South African gives him his 13th Top 5 at the Dakar. Meanwhile, Kuba Przygonski (POL) battled back from a tough first week to show impressive speed in the closing stages and rose to a Top 20 finish.

Following nine Dakar truck wins in 11 years while the rally was hosted in South America, Team Kamaz Master continued their winning record in Saudi Arabia. Andrey Karginov (RUS) won his second Dakar title and the nearest non-Kamaz truck to him was more than two hours back in the general classification.

Karginov’s team-mates Anton Shibalov (RUS) and Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) finished second and fourth overall.

Building his own legacy at the Dakar is Ignacio Casale (CHI) who claimed his third quad bike title. Casale put together an unassailable lead in the opening stages, so when he did suffer a navigation error on Stage 10 he was able to stay in top spot.

History was also made in the side-by-side race when Cyril Despres (FRA) – alongside co-driver Mike Horn (SUI) – became the first Dakar competitor to win stages in three different categories (bike, car and SxS).

Chaleco Lopez (CHI) arrived at the 2020 Dakar as the defending SxS champion and dug deep to come away with a podium finish at this latest edition of the world’s toughest rally.

The 2020 Dakar Rally bike race will be remembered for the fatal crash suffered by Paulo Gonçalves (POR). Gonçalves was a much loved and respected rider within the bivouac and his passing on Stage 7 led to Stage 8 being cancelled for the bikes and quads in honour of the former Dakar runner-up.

The bike race in Saudi Arabia was won by American Ricky Brabec on a Honda, the first time in 19 years that the fastest Dakar rider had not been on a KTM. Brabec was followed home in second place by Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) on a Husqvarna.

Third place gave Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Toby Price (AUS) his fifth Dakar podium result. The two-time Dakar winner maintains his record of landing in the Top 3 every time he has finished motorsports’ ultimate test of endurance.

Female rider Laia Sanz (ESP) was also proud of her accomplishment. She said: “I started 10 Dakars and I’ve finished all 10. This is something that is really difficult and it’s an achievement I’m very proud of.”

Celebrations might have started in Saudi but continued in City Centre Bahrain when Sainz and his teammate along with 13-time Dakar winner Peterhansel met with fans.

Sainz shared the intensity of the race saying:  “We were expecting a tough race and it was indeed a tough race! We had tough competition from Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel and it was very close all the way to the end.”

The team members also all agreed that the first week of the rally raid starkly contrasted the second, with the first remembered for its “fantastic landscaping” and the second for its extreme speed.

Meanwhile, Peterhansel noted the genuine camaraderie within the Bahrain JCW X-Raid team, something made very clear as the two motorsports legends posed together with the trophy for the fans.

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