The Frenchman also backed up Sainz on the navigational front, saying it was a “race of co-drivers”.
Kris Meeke made his Dakar debut, and despite more than a few setbacks managed to make the finish. After setting fastest time in the Prologue, Meeke’s spare wheel caught fire when his electronics overheated on Stage One.
Meeke’s PH Sport Zephyr Buggy then broke two drive shafts during the marathon stage, meaning he had to drive a considerable length of the event with only two-wheel drive.
Despite commenting that Dakar was “trying to crush my soul”, the indefatigable Ulsterman somehow made the finish.
Francesco Lopez Contardo won Meeke’s Lightweight Vehicle category, whilst Kevin Benavides became only the third non-European to take overall victory in the Bike class.
On the Quads Manuel Andujar took the win with a 33min 34sec advantage, as Dmitry Sotnikov scored an assured victory in the Trucks category, finishing 40min ahead of Kamaz team-mate Anton Shibalov.
Sadly one rider will not be returning home: Pierre Cherpin, 52, lost his life following a crash on the seventh stage of the Dakar.