With a strong performance from start to finish in the 2022 Dakar Rally, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah is now tied with Ari Vatanen for the second most wins in the Car category with four. Many other stories throughout the thirteen stages in Saudi Arabia included Sam Sunderland scoring his second Bikes victory by slim margin, Austin Jones winning one for the Americans in even closer fashion, and Seth Quintero wrapping up what was nearly a perfect Rally.
Driving a Toyota Hilux T1+ for Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside navigator Matthieu Baumel, Al-Attiyah recorded a total time of 38 hours, 33 minutes, and 3 seconds. Al-Attiyah started off strong by winning A and B of Stage #1, as well as Stage #4; although fewer than his five from 2021, his overall time was twenty-seven minutes and forty-six seconds faster than that of Bahrain Raid Xtreme‘s Sébastien Loeb. Loeb, the nine-time World Rally Champion, falls short by finishing second for the second time with two stage wins in #2 and 7.
“Me, Mathieu and the team all did a great job from beginning until the end,” said Al-Attiyah, who is the only Middle Easterner to have multiple Dakar victories with previous triumphs in 2011, 2015, and 2019. “It was very important for me to win because now the Rally is in our region.”
DTM and World Rallycross star Mattias Ekström finished ninth overall after scoring his maiden stage win in the eighth. The victory was also a high point for his Audi Sport team, which deployed a fleet of hybrid RS Q e-trons for Ekström, Carlos Sainz, and reigning champion Stéphane Peterhansel. Peterhansel’s Rally unravelled almost immediately after a rear axle broke during the opening stage while he was running second.
In the Bikes, Sunderland won just Stage #8, but was consistent throughout and nabbed his second win after 2017 in dramatically close fashion; his time of 38:47:30 barely trumped Pablo Quintanilla by just three minutes and twenty-seven seconds. The Briton’s victory is also the first in the Rally for Spanish motorcycle make GasGas, which is owned by Sunderland’s former factory employer KTM. Nevertheless, as KTM has its own programme, Sunderland became the first rider to win the Dakar for different brands since Richard Sainct won in 1999/2000 for BMW and 2003 for KTM.
“There was a lot of stress today because the times have been really close this year,” Sunderland stated. “I’m really grateful to everyone who helps and supports me, I hope this victory can repay some of that. This victory feels even better than the first.”
Although Sunderland’s team-mate Daniel Sanders led the Bikes in stage wins with three, a crash in Stage #7 knocked him out of contention. Danilo Petrucci, who claimed Stage #5 to become the first MotoGP alumnus to win a Dakar stage, was ninetieth as a retirement in the second stage ended his hopes of making a dent in the standings. A similar fate befell defending winner Kevin Benavides, who was fifth entering the tenth stage before mechanical troubles knocked him out of contention, though he rebounded by winning Stage #11.
EKS-South Racing‘s Francisco “Chaleco” López Contardo secured the Light Prototype class despite not winning any stages, and took his third Dakar victory after winning in the SSV in 2019 and 2021. Quintero annihilated the Light Prototypes as he won all but one stage, but the exception was what prevented him from winning the overall as a broken differential knocked him out of Stage #2. Guillaume De Mevius won that stage, but withdrew from the Rally altogether after being forced to retire due to terminal rollcage damage in Stage #5.
The SSV division gave the United States a reason to celebrate as Jones became the third American to win the Rally after Ricky Brabec (Bikes) and Casey Currie (SSV) in 2020. Jones, driving for Can-Am Factory South Racing, finished in the top ten in every stage. His time of 47:22:50 was just narrowly enough to score the overall ahead of Gerard Farrès Guell, with the two-minute, thirty-seven-second gap being the slimmest of the Rally.
Alexandre Giroud and his Yamaha won in the Quads to break up a class that has been dominated by Argentinians and Chileans, taking stage victories in the fifth and eighth. It is a strong bounce-back for the Frenchman, who won five stages in 2021 but blew an engine after the eleventh. The win also comes with sentimental value for Giroud, whose father Daniel was the first quad rider to finish the Rally in 1997.
Giroud commented, “It’s been twenty-five years since my father began to make us dream. We shared everything with him, but unfortunately he’s not here today. I’ve been coming here for years, but at the beginning it was without mechanics. The team’s been up and running for two or three years, and our experience has helped us get on the podium. It’s a nice win.”
The Trucks are typically Russian territory as KAMAZ Master‘s quartet of 43509 trucks swept every stage. By the end, Dmitry Sotnikov was a two-time Rally winner as he beat four-time champion Eduard Nikolaev by nearly ten minutes. All four KAMAZ trucks locked out the top spots with a 1:49:55 difference between Sotnikov and fourth-placed Andrey Karginov (himself a twice victor). A distant fourth and over three hours back was the Dutch Petronas Team De Rooy IVECO spearheaded by Janus Van Kasteren.
“KAMAZ team has gold, silver and bronze and this is the main thing,” began Nikolaev, “but there is only one champion, so we have something to strive for next year.”
The Original by Motul category was claimed by Arūnas Gelažninkas for the second year in a row. The division is for bikes and quads with no assistance, including navigators and other personnel, save for certain supplies provided by the race organisers. The first Lithuanian Dakar champion, Gelažninkas won five straight stages from #1B to #5 followed by a sixth in #10.
In the Open class, which is available to vehicles that meet non-FIA regulations like those of SCORE International, Gérard Tramoni and his Oryx Sadev buggy won all but two stages. Finishing twenty-six minutes behind was the Altuwaijri Racing Team Toyota Land Cruiser of Mohamad Altwijiri, who ran third for much of the Rally—also retiring thrice—before jumping Andrew Wicklow‘s Bowler Bulldog in Stage #7 and winning the eighth and tenth. Wicklow exited Stage #9 but was able to see his Rally to the finish as the third and last finisher.
Two other Open entries, the Lifesil SPEED UTV of Jorge Wagenfuhr and Team Jazztech Polaris RZR 1000 E of Dario De Lorenzo, exited for good after five and three stages, respectively. Although it was cut short, Wagenfuhr’s entry marked the Dakar début for SPEED UTV, a manufacturer owned by longtime Dakar competitor Robby Gordon.
The Dakar Classic is a separate event from the Rally in which drivers complete stages based on navigation and maintaining certain speed rather than setting the fastest time, with the winner being whoever earns the fewest points. Aided by winning Stage #6, Serge Mogno took the win in his Team FSO Toyota Land Cruiser HDJ80 with 399 points to runner-up Arnaud Euvrard‘s 602. Finishing just shy of the podium in fourth was NASCAR Whelen Euro Series president Jérôme Galpin in his Team FJ ProTruck.
The Classic is also reserved for vehicles built prior to 2000. For example, Rudy Jacquot of 205 Africa Raid, who placed twenty-fourth, drove a restored Peugeot 205 T16 that was piloted by Vatanen to the 1987 Rally win. However, Jacquot’s run was overshadowed by tragedy on the final day when his head mechanic Quentin Lavalée was killed in an accident involving his support vehicle.
Dakar was the inaugural round of the World Rally-Raid Championship co-sanctioned by the FIA and FIM.
|Class||Driver||Number||Nationality||Team||Vehicle||Time||Margin over 2nd|
|Bike||Sam Sunderland||3||GBR||GasGas Factory Racing||KTM 450 Factory Rally Replica||38:47:30||00:03:27|
|Car||Nasser Al-Attiyah||201||QAT||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+||38:33:03||+ 00:27:46|
|Light Prototype||Francisco López Contardo||305||CHL||EKS-South Racing||Can-Am XRS||45:50:51||+ 00;51:28|
|Open||Gérard Tramoni||600||FRA||Team 100% Sud Ouest||Oryx Sadev||60:20:26||+ 78:49:22|
|Original by Motul||Arūnas Gelažninkas||36||LTU||Orion Dakar Team||Husqvarna 450 Rally Replica||43:11:06||+ 00:35:05|
|SSV||Austin Jones||401||USA||Can-Am Factory South Racing||BRP Can-Am Maverick XRS||47:22:50||+ 00:02:37|
|Truck||Dmitry Sotnikov||500||RAF||KAMAZ Master||KAMAZ 43509||41:37:34||+ 00:09:58|
|Classic||Serge Mogno||798||FRA||Team FSO||Toyota Land Cruiser HDJ80||399 points||203 points|