Carl Peters
Sport Editor
3 minute read
15 Jan 2022

Al-Attiyah bags fourth Dakar win

Carl Peters

When the Dakar Rally ended on Friday after 4 000 km of racing across the Saudi Arabian desert, three South African drivers and one biker secured deserving top 20 finishes.

When the Dakar Rally ended on Friday after 4 000 km of racing across the Saudi Arabian desert, three South African drivers and one biker secured deserving top 20 finishes.

It was also a generally successful competition for the two South African-based car teams of Toyota Gazoo Racing and Century Racing.

Additionally, three brave South African bikers completed the gruelling race in the unassisted class known as Original by Motul.

 Giniel de Villiers
South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers took fifth spot in the 44th edition of the Dakar Rally.

Battle-scarred Giniel de Villiers from Toyota Gazoo was the highest placed racer from South Africa in fifth spot in the cars’ overall standings, which was won by his team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah. This was the Qatari’s fourth career win.

De Villiers will be proud of the fact that he has never been out of the top 10 in any of the 19 Dakars he has raced to date.

Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel from Andorra led the mighty rally from start to finish this year.

The proud race winner was almost 28 minutes clear of Frenchman Sebastien Loeb in a BRX Hunter and 61 minutes ahead of Saudi Arabian Yazeed Al-Rajhi’s Toyota Overdrive vehicle in the top three of the final standings.

This podium situation also meant that three South African Hiluxes finished in the top five, even though Al-Attiyah only won two stages during his very steady run which contained a few of the mishaps suffered by some rivals.

The top three places in the final stage on Friday from Bisha to Jeddah went to South Africa’s Henk Lategan (Toyota Gazoo), France’s Stephane Peterhansel (Audi) and fellow South African Brian Baragwanath (Century Racing) respectively.

Lategan either did exceptionally well or suffered major problems during the 12 stages and finished 31st overall.

Baragwanath finished 14th overall and compatriots Shameer Variawa (Toyota Gazoo), Christiaan Visser (Century Racing), Ernest Roberts (Century Racing) and Schalk Burger (Century Racing) settled for 15th, 29th, 39th and 63rd respectively.

Fellow South African co-driver Ryan Bland helped Germany’s Daniel Schröder place his SA-made Jurgen Schröder vehicle in 36th place overall.

Biker Sunderland wins second title

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Aaron Mare from Hero Motosports was the top placed South African biker in finishing 16th overall on his first Dakar experience, after he took 28th spot in Friday’s short stage.

Next best from Mzansi was Bradley Cox in 25th place on his Bas Dakar KTM, after he came home 24th on the day.

The young KwaZulu-Natal rookie had a sensible ride overall.

Compatriots, Charan Moore, Stuart Gregory and Werner Kennedy finished 34th, 65th and 91st overall, but they secured satisfactory positions in the Original by Motul class.

In that sub-section, Port Edward nut farmer Gregory placed 13th and race rookies Moore and Kennedy took fourth and 23rd respectively.

They did not have the luxuries afforded to team-based entrants, but seemingly enjoyed doing their own thing on their bikes in the world’s most famous rally.

British rider Sam Sunderland took his second bike title in the Dakar for GasGas, an off-shoot of KTM, in a close race ahead of Argentine Pablo Quintanilla’s Honda and Austrian Matthias Walkner’s KTM.

American Austin Jones won the Side by Side section, Argentine Francisco Contardo grabbed the UTV win, while Frenchman Alexandre Giroud’s Yamaha scooped the overall quad win.

Russians Dmitry Sotnikov, Ruslan Akhmadeev and Ilgiz Akhmetzianov led home a cherished 1-2-3-4 for the Kamaz team in the truck race.

Some 409 vehicles started the 44th edition of the Dakar and third consecutive version in Saudi Arabia, including 89 cars and 144 motorcycles.