|Dakar 2010: Carlos Sainz and Vladimir Chagin winners at cars/trucks.|
Only 186 teams, of the 362 that started the 2010 Argentine Chile Dakar Rally were given permission to start on the 14 and final special stage of this absolute grueling rally. With only 51% of the teams making it to the last stage, the Argentina crowd was entertained with some extreme high speed rally style driving and the heroes of the desert being victorious in San Carlos de Bolivar at the end of the 206 km special stage.
With only two minutes splitting the seven front runners in saturday’s stage, with all the teams driving very fast on a nerve wrecking special stage. Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel in a BMW X3 started the stage first, followed by Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) with his VW Race Touareg, followed by the BMW X3 of Guerlain Chicherit of France. In the end the 206 km special stage was won by Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah ahead of his team-mate Spain’s Carlos Sainz who began the final stage with only 2m 48s overall advantage over Al-Attiyah.
Finally it was the El Matador who now boasts the trophies as WRC Champion in 1990 and 1992 as well as Dakar Champion in 2010. He beat the flying Qatari by a margin of 2 minutes and 12 seconds over the entire rally. But VW celebrates an even bigger achievement with Mark Miller (USA) and his South African co-driver, Ralph Pitchford in third place, it means that VW has this year their big dream of taking all the positions on the podium.
Adding to that achievement the VW Amaroc double-cabs were used to clear the routes and transport the officials on this year’s event. Last year they were the first Diesel winners of the Dakar when South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and his German co-driver, Dirk von Zitzewitz won the rally.
Carlos Sainz, a team-player and well respected team-mate in the VW team, was very happy, and said in a somewhat philosophical way: "A very, very important day for me. I won in Europe, in Spain and today in the Dakar. I am really happy and relieved. I would first like to thank my co-pilot Lucas Cruz for his wonderful work and the team as well as all of those who trusted me for so long. There was no problem at all with the car. There is not a single bump on its body. We drove very fast, but we were clever too. It was a tough and daily fight against my teammate. I knew it would be like that. I fought so hard. Today was a very special special stage. I could not afford any mistake. Straight ahead, crossing, straight ahead, crossing. We had to master everything and control our emotions. But it has been like this for a week!"
Nasser Al-Attiyah was happy for the team, but clearly hungry for overall victory, saying: "It’s okay. I’m pretty happy. This second place is a good result for me. I never got this high in the standings. This morning I really went for it but we knew the stage would be a long straight line. I am thrilled I won the stage. I really tried all I could... but well... My main feeling is joy. We raced a great Dakar, no mistakes, no problem with the car. It all worked out fine: the team, the co-pilot, the car. We finish the Dakar with three Volkswagen on the podium. Congratulations to Carlos Sainz. What matters is that a Volkswagen won. I am happy for Carlos. He did his job. I tried to do mine. Next year, I’ll win. But now I’ll go shake hands with Carlos; he’s part of the team."
Mark Miller said: "First I am very happy the Dakar is over. It was two very long weeks. I think we did a good job in the team. I am very happy for Carlos Sainz. We have been working together for 5 years and he’s a great teammate. He helped me a lot and he has always been very present for the team. I am grateful for that. For me, the raid was only good times; even if some were better than others. For me the best time is not so much my stage victory but the La Serena stage. I was in the lead at mid-stage but I lost time behind Chicherit later. But it was a great satisfaction because for many years I had suffered in the WRC type stages and there, I was up for it. This will be good for next year. I loved the struggle for final victory. Since Nasser joined the team, he has brought a lot. The level of all of us went up a notch."
With a final time of 55:04:47, Russia’s Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) wins the 2010 Dakar in the truck category, 1:13:08 ahead of his teammate and countryman Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) and 10:43:20 ahead of Dutchman Marcel Van Vliet (GINAF). Chagin gets his sixth victory in a Dakar after winning in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. Having won 9 stages this year, Chagin becomes the absolute stage victory record holder in the Dakar with a total of 56 stages won, i.e. one more than French driver Stéphane Peterhansel.
Adding to the success of Chagin is the one-two success of Kamaz strengthening the fantastic track record that this manufacturer has in the Dakar.
Vladimir Chagin was very happy with all the supporters and Kamaz flags flying at the finish of the special stage. He remarked: "It’s our team’s ninth victory. There are not many teams with such a track record. This is the result of a year, of several years of work. Last year was good with Firdaus’ victory; this year is an even bigger success. A fabulous result for Kamaz. Our team is really strong. I think it wants victory more than the other teams."
2010/01/17 | 17:21 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Coen van Zyl