MINI managed to secure their fifth overall win when Carlos Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz won the gruelling 2020 Dakar Rally which started on 5th January and finished yesterday, 17th January 2020 in their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. They finished 6:21 minutes ahead of last year’s winner Nasser Al-Attiyah.
This year, the rally took place in Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Middle East. The route took drivers and riders over a testing 7,500 km course, including 5,000 km of specials. And around 75% of this year’s event took place over all types of sand.
Carlos Sainz said after the rally “I am very, very happy. So much hard work, physical training and test work with the team has gone into getting this result. The race was fantastic for us drivers, but you had to work very hard, right from day one. It is hard to imagine, but it was a full throttle rally from the word go. Right now, I just want to enjoy the success.”
The French driver and record winner of Dakar, Stéphane Peterhansel and his Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiuza finished third, just 9:58 minutes behind Sainz and Cruz, to round off an impressive performance from the two MINI JCW Buggies.
In fact, two MINI JCW Buggy crews won four stages each, while MINI vehicles performed fastest on an impressive total of nine of the twelve days. Vaidotas Zala and Saulius Jurgelenas won the very first Dakar stage on the opening day in their MINI JCW Rally.
There were nine MINI crews in total that started the Dakar Rally and seven of them completed the race and crossed the finish line in Al-Quiddia, four of them in the top ten, which is quite a remarkable achievement.
Argentinians Orlando Terranova and Bernardo ‘Ronnie’ Graue finished in the top three on three days of the rally and finished sixth overall in their MINI JCW Rally. Local favourite Yasir Seaidan and his Russian co-driver Alexey Kuzmich finished in ninth and second on the closing stage. Polish driver Jakub ‘Kuba’ Przygonski and his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk eventually finished in 19th place overall, some 8:35.18 seconds off the winner after suffering a technical issue with their car on the opening day, losing them six hours.
Head of MINI, Bernd Körber said of this year’s rally in Saudi Arabia, “On behalf of the entire MINI family, I would like to congratulate Carlos Sainz, Lucas Cruz and the X-raid team on winning the 2020 Dakar Rally. At the same time, I also congratulate Stéphane Peterhansel and Paulo Fiuza on their podium finish. Unfortunately, this success is overshadowed by the tragic accidents involving Paulo Gonçalves and Edwin Straver, which have affected us all deeply. We wish the relatives every strength and Edwin Straver all the best for his recovery. Our drivers and the X-raid team performed superbly in Saudi Arabia, which was hosting the rally for the first time, and they were rewarded for the hard work they put in during preparations for the event. The MINI John Cooper Works Buggy proved to be fast and reliable on the very demanding and unfamiliar terrain. The fifth overall victory for MINI at the Dakar, and the first since 2015, is a very special moment for us all.”
Sadly, Dutch biker Edwin Straver, who crashed 124 km into the timed special of stage 11 (SHUBAYTAH–HARADH) on Thursday 16th January 2020, died as a result of his injuries. The 48-year-old Dutchman, a former motocross rider, was taking part in his third Dakar Rally.
For more information on this year’s Dakar Rally. Please visit www.dakar.com
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of BMW Group