Car class champion Nasser Al-Attiyah
For the third year in a row, Volkswagen claimed top honors at the 2011 Dakar Rally, which wrapped up this weekend. In fact, the turbo-diesel Race Touareg 3 utterly dominated the car class of the rally, giving VW the podium for the second time since last year’s victory in the Touareg 2.
The winner, Qatari driver, Nasser Al-Attiyah, became the first Arab driver to win the Dakar Rally. Al-Attiyah is currently a driver for the Barwa Rally Team in the Production World Rally Championship, and was the 2006 PWRC champion in a Subaru WRX STi. He finished second overall in the 2010 Dakar Rally to VW teammate and WRC champion, Spaniard Carlos Sainz, by a nail-biting two minutes and twelve seconds. Sainz was off to a strong start early in the 2011 race, but his car suffered mechanical problems which hurt his chances at the title. Sainz finished third overall in the car class.
In the motorbike class, the overall winner, for the third time, was Spaniard Marc Coma. Russian Vladimir Chagin swept the truck class for a record seventh time, and Argentine Alejandro Patronelli managed a victory in the quad class despite a broken hand. Es muy macho.
Quad champion Alejandro Patronelli
The 5,900 mile rally-raid is widely considered the most dangerous race in the world, and this year was no exception with one fatality in Argentina resulting from a collision between a farm truck and a Toyota Hilux driven by a competitor. Although many in South America are opposed to the race due to safety concerns, the danger is clearly one of the main draws for spectators. Dakar Rally director, Etienne Lavigne, has hinted that the race may be expanded into other countries in South America next year, in addition to Chile and Argentina.
Results – Car Class
1. Al-Attiyah – VW – 45:16:16
2. De Villiers – VW – 46:05:57
3. Sainz – VW – 46:36:54
4. Peterhansel – BMW – 47:00:04
5. Holowczyc – BMW – 49:27:37
6. Miller – VW – 50:10:58
7. Dos Santos – BMW – 52:06:23
8. Lavielle – Nissan – 53:13:34
9. Spinelli – Mitsubishi – 53:39:53
10. Kahle – SMG – 60:28:12