South Africa’s Dakar drought is finally over after Qatari ace Nasser Al Attiyah clinched the overall title for 2019, driving for the local Toyota Gazoo team.
It is the first time in the gruelling marathon race’s history that a South African team has claimed the honour.
Al Attiyah only finished 12th in Thursday’s final stage, but his remarkable consistency was enough for him to claim a third personal overall win.
The 48-year-old previously won with Volkswagen in 2011 and with Mini in 2015.
An Olympic medallist in shooting at the 2012 London Games, Al Attiyah had enough in hand to avoid taking any risks in his Toyota on the 10th and final stage from Pisco to the Peruvian capital, crossing the line at a sedate pace.
France’s former nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb took third in the overall standings, almost two hours behind the Qatari.
And after winning his third stage of this year’s event on Wednesday for his 34th career stage win the title was his, barring final-day disaster.
Stephane Peterhansel, a 13-time Dakar Rally champion, had to quit the race early on Wednesday’s penultimate stage when sitting fourth overal
Al Attiyah had come close last year with his SA outfit’s Hilux in finishing the runner-up, before finding the final piece of the puzzle this year.
He led the general classification for all of the stages bar the second, when his teammate Giniel de Villiers leapfrogged him.
De Villiers notably won the race in 2009.