W2RC - Sainz/Cruz hold on to give Team Audi Sport an historic victory at the 46th Dakar


Team Audi Sport’s Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz held their nerve over the second week and were supported superbly by their two team-mates en route to a memorable victory at the 46th Dakar Rally.

2024 W2RC - Dakar Rally - Team Audi Sport - Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz

A fourth career Dakar success for both Sainz and Cruz enabled the Spaniard to draw level with Finnish legend Ari Vatanen with four wins but, more importantly, it gave Audi a first success with the electric-powered Audi RS Q E-Tron E2. Team Audi Sport and Sainz also lead the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships after the opening round of the 2024 FIA World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC).

Sainz led from the 48-hour Marathon stage six in the deep south of Saudi Arabia, through the rest day in Riyadh and over the remaining six stages. He came under severe pressure from nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb for five days until the Frenchman and his co-driver Fabian Lurquin broke a suspension arm on the BRX Prodrive Hunter in the 10th stage and dropped back to eventually finish third overall.

Both drivers overcame a series of punctures and minor scares over the gruelling second half of the opening round of the W2RC, but invaluable support from team-mates Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist and Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger got Sainz over the line in Yanbu with a winning margin of 1hr 20min 25sec.

After their own technical problems, delays and invaluable support work for Sainz, Prologue and stage eight winner Ekström came home in 44th but Peterhansel - who won one stage - stopped on the last day with engine issues.  

2024 W2RC - Dakar Rally - Team Audi Sport - Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz

Sainz said: “It means that when you work hard and you believe in yourself, when you have a good team and good people around you, then the work will always pay off. This car is so special; it’s so difficult to manage. It has been so difficult to make it work. To finish and to win this race, well, I’m so happy for Audi. To be here at my age and to stay at the level, you need to work a lot beforehand. It doesn’t just come like that. At the moment, I want to enjoy this victory and I will think about my future in the next weeks. We had a good strategy and good support from the team.”

Sven Quandt, Team Principal of Team Audi Sport, said: “This has been a very special year. We have a completely new crew, basically from Audi. Because all the other guys left to the Formula One team and we had to build up a team spirit in the last couple of months - put it this way, the last nine months. It has been incredible. It has been very good team work in the camp and by the drivers. In the last days we shadowed Carlos, always with some tyres and to have a care just behind him to make sure that he had the best chance to win. All of them, and the co-drivers, helped to get Carlos to the finish line.”

Overdrive Racing’s Guillaume de Mévius and Xavier Panseri led after stage one and hovered around the top 10 throughout the event, the inexperienced Belgian gradually climbing through the field during the second week to snatch a memorable second overall in his Toyota Hilux. He also holds a similar position in the W2RC Drivers’ Championship.

De Mévius said: “For sure, I’m very happy. It was a crazy race. We never expected to be on the podium. We always dreamed about it, but it was not the objective at the beginning of the race. It’s an amazing feeling to be here, it’s an amazing feeling to be second. Thank you to Overdrive, thank you to the team, thank you to my family and my friends who have given a lot of support. It’s an amazing feeling. It was very challenging with long stages. It was hard, but we made it. The feeling is incredible.”

Loeb and Lurquin are not registered for the W2RC but they won five stages on their way to third place. De Mévius’s team-mates Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq, finished fourth overall, and were the third finishers in the W2RC in their Toyota. Chicherit won two stages and climbed confidently during the second week from 11th position at the rest day after power steering failure.

Chicherit said: "The time lost in stages three and four is what separates us from the winners today. It's frustrating, but I prefer to focus on the positive, which is our fantastic recovery in the overall standings. Alex (Winocq) did an incredible job on the navigation, especially in the challenging stage 11 when we opened the route and won, which is rare in our sport. I also want to congratulate Guillaume (de Mévius) and Xavier (Panseri) for their outstanding second place. Our performances have really put our new team in the spotlight.”

The Czech duo of former WRC star Martin Prokop and Viktor Chytka guided their Orlen Jipocar Team Ford Raptor to fifth overall and fourth of the crews registered for the W2RC.

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Guy Botterill and Giniel de Villiers finished sixth and seventh and Benediktas Vanagas snatching eighth but all three drivers are not registered for the W2RC. That enabled Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Lucas Moraes and his Spanish co-driver Armand Monleón to finish as the fifth of the W2RC crews in ninth overall. The Brazilian overcame a first week roll and technical issues on the penultimate stage that cost him a potential second overall.

The French Century CR6-T crew of Matthieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier rounded off the top 10, were sixth in W2RC and led the two-wheel drive contingent.

Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel began a second week fightback from sixth-stage delays themselves and looked to be on course for a useful haul of points until they suffered punctures and then engine woes on the Prodrive Hunter running under his Nasser Racing banner 62km into the eighth stage. Damage was terminal as far as challenging for the win was concerned for the defending champion but the crew incurred a 40-hour penalty changing the engine. They continued into the next stage until the suspension arm broke and the Qatari threw in the towel.

The X-Raid Mini JCW Team’s Krzysztof Holowczyc lost chunks of time after an accident during the first week and after a second collision in a sand dune. The Pole persevered and brought his Mini JCW Rally Plus to the finish near the rear of the field.

The seventh stage between Riyadh and Al-Duwadimi ruined the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Dakar. Neither Joan ‘Nani’ Roma nor South African team-mate Gareth Woolridge were registered for the W2RC in their Ford Rangers and were using the event as a continued test and development exercise.

Roma was moving towards the top 10 when his engine’s intake system ingested sand in the desert and Woolridge, who had overcome suspension issues and major delays during the first week, rolled on SS7. Roma continued after an engine change and massive time penalties, as did Woolridge, and both cars finished the event.

Gutiérrez stuns Guthrie to win Challenger class

2024 W2RC - Dakar Rally - Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA - Cristina Gutiérrez and Pablo Moreno Huete

The Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA crew of Cristina Gutiérrez and Pablo Moreno Huete took full advantage of technical issues for long-time leader Mitch Guthrie to snatch a dramatic last-stage victory in the Challenger category in their Taurus T3 Max.

Guthrie and co-driver Kellon Walch started the last stage with a 25min 07sec cushion in the Taurus Factory Team T3 Max before stopping with technical issues after just seven kilometres of stage 12. They managed to repair the car and salvage second place but finished 35min 46sec behind their Spanish rivals. The American, who led from stage seven to the final morning and won two stages, had the scant consolation of being the top W2RC-registered finisher.

2024 W2RC - Dakar Rally - Taurus Factory Team T3 Max - Mitch Guthrie and Kellon Walch

A triumphant Gutiérrez said: “I always tried to fight until the finish. We didn’t know what had happened until the last kilometres. We pushed a lot on this stage because I knew that 25 minutes is a lot, but if something happens behind you, you never know. When I got to the finish, I didn’t know what had happened, but I’m very glad and proud of the team and happy with the car.”

Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuška finished third and second of the W2RC entrants with Oriol Vidal in his factory Can-Am after punctures and brake issues during the first week. Former winner Francisco Lopez was not registered for the W2RC on this occasion but came home in fourth and won the fifth stage.

Defending champion Austin Jones again teamed up with Gustavo Gugelmin to finish fifth overall and third of the registered crews after losing a lot of time during the first week and then suffering some navigational time losses during week two.

Brazilian’s Marcelo Tiglia Gastaldi and Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso won two stages apiece on their way to seventh and ninth overall and fourth and sixth in the W2RC’s Challenger category. Portugal’s Ricardo Porém was sandwiched between the duo in his MMP Can-Am.

Young Eryk Goczal had won the T4 category at the Dakar Rally in 2023 and the Krakow driver dominated the first week in the Challenger category in his Energylandia Rally Team Taurus T3 Max with Spanish co-driver Oriol Mena. He won the Prologue and four of the opening six stages.

But the clutches in his new Taurus T3 contained a carbon fibre composite material that contravened the technical regulations and, at the rest day in Riyadh, the event Stewards disqualified the youngster and his uncle Michal from the rally. This handed the Challenger category lead to Guthrie before the restart and he held on until the final morning. Eryk’s father Marek withdrew the third of the Energylandia Rally Team T3s after the seventh stage. 

Saudi Arabia’s Dania Akeel was fourth quickest on the final stage but clutch failure in the dunes on stage seven, stoppages on stage nine and gearbox woes on SS11 dropped her and Stéphane Duplé to eighth of the W2RC contenders behind Mario Franco and Daniel Jordão.

De Soultrait wins SSV class; Seaidan tops W2RC entrants

French racer Xavier de Soultrait and his co-driver Martin Bonnet overcame a 10-minute time penalty imposed for obstructing a rival competitor on the 10th stage to fend off the late challenge from Jérôme de Sadeleer (Can-Am) and seal a narrow victory in the SSV class. The Sébastien Loeb Racing-Bardahl Team Polaris RZR Pro R driver won the Prologue and two stages and led the event from the end of stage seven.

De Soultrait said: “I was quite close to winning on a bike in 2021 when I broke my back. It was tough to handle at the time with very young children. I asked myself the question of whether I would carry on or stop everything. I’m really happy to have teamed up with Martin, Polaris and Loeb Racing. We had half an hour’s lead, we were attacked by some not very classy people, but we kept our heads up. We didn't crack, we won fair and square and we can be proud of ourselves. I think we represent the Polaris image very well. We play fair and winning like that is really cool.”

Third-placed Yasir Seaidan was the first of the registered W2RC drivers to reach the finish in Yanbu with co-driver Adrien Metge in a Can-Am Maverick and the Saudi snatched a lead over the fourth and fifth-placed Can-Ams of Sara Price and triple stage winner João Ferreira in the W2RC’s SSV rankings. Seaidan claimed one stage win and led the event outright at the rest day until he sustained a broken differential and three flat tyres in stage nine.

2024 W2RC - Dakar Rally - SSV - Yasir Seaidan and Michael Medge

Ferreira suffered major time losses with a broken steering rod on stage one and fuel pump issues on the ninth stage. Price and her co-driver Jeremy Gray won the 10th stage but lost valuable minutes on the penultimate stage and missed out on a chance to take advantage of De Soultrait’s penalty and challenge for the win.

Ecuador’s Sebastian Guayasamin and Brazilian racer Cristiano de Sousa Batista came home fourth and fifth of the registered W2RC drivers with de Sousa Batista claiming a fastest time on stage nine. French veteran Claude Fournier was running as high as eighth overall until his Can-Am was destroyed by fire on stage seven.

Can-Am was destroyed by fire on stage seven.


2024 Dakar Rally - result (unofficial):

1. Carlos Sainz (ESP)/Lucas Cruz (ESP) Audi RS Q E-tron E2 -48hr 15min 18sec
2. Guillaume de Mevius (BEL)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive49hr 35min 43sec
3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Fabian Lurquin (BEL) BRX Prodrive Hunter49hr 44min 30sec*
4. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA)/Alex Winocq (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 49hr 51min 17sec
5. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Viktor Chytka (CZE) Ford Raptor RS 50hr 32min 01sec
6. Guy Botterill (ZAF)/Brett Cummings (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux50hr 55min 51sec*
7. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dennis Murphy (ZAF) Toyota GR DKR Hilux51hr 05min 44sec*
8. Benediktas Vanagas (LTU)/Kuldar Sikk (LTU) Toyota Hilux51hr 12min 35sec*
9. Lucas Moraes (BRA)/Armand Monleón (ESP) Toyota GR DKR Hilux51hr 18min 30sec
10. Mathieu Serradori (FRA)/Loic Minaudier (FRA) Century CR6-T51hr 19min 30sec
11. Denis Krotov (KGZ)/Konstantin Zhiltsov (ISR) Toyota Hilux Overdrive51hr 54min 31sec
12. Cristian Baumgart (BRA)/Alberto Andreotti (BRA) Prodrive Hunter52hr 35min 17sec
13. Christian Lavieille (FRA)/Valentin Sarreaud (FRA) MD Optimus52hr 36min 09sec
14. Romain Dumas (FRA)/Max Delfino (FRA) Toyota Hilux52hr 48min 29sec*
15. Laia Sanz (ESP)/Maurizio Gerini (ITA) Astara CR6-T53hr 09min 04sec*
16. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno Huete (ESP) Taurus T3 Max53hr 59min 47sec*
17. Saood Variawa (ZAF)/François Cazalet (FRA) Toyota GR DKR Hilux54hr 09min 59sec
18. Mitch Guthrie (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) Taurus T3 Max54hr 35min 33sec
19. Jérôme Pélichet (FRA)/Pascal Larroque (FRA) MD Optimus54hr 51min 14sec*
20. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 54hr 58min 34sec
Select others  
26. Juan Cruz Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Carreras (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive57hr 41min 00sec
33. Lionel Baud (FRA)/Lucie Baud (FRA) Toyota Hilux Overdrive59hr 17min 26sec
43. Aliyyah Koloc (SYC)/Sébastien Delaunay (FRA) Red-Lined Revo+62hr 24min 51sec
44. Mattias Ekström (SWE)/Emil Bergkvist (SWE) Audi RS Q E-tron E263hr 54min 37sec

*denotes NOT registered for W2RC


Rally leaders

PrologueMattias Ekström (Audi)
SS1Guillaume de Mévius (Toyota)
SS2Carlos Sainz (Audi)
SS3-5Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota)
SS6-12Carlos Sainz (Audi)


Stage winners

PrologueMattias Ekström (Audi)
SS1Guillaume de Mévius (Toyota)
SS2Stéphane Peterhansel (Audi)
SS3Lucas Moraes (Toyota)
SS4Sébastien Loeb (Hunter)
SS5Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Hunter)
SS6Sébastien Loeb (Hunter)
SS7Sébastien Loeb (Hunter)
SS8Mattias Ekström (Audi)
SS9Sébastien Loeb (Hunter)
SS10Guerlain Chicherit (Toyota)
SS11Guerlain Chicherit (Toyota)
SS12Sébastien Loeb (Hunter)


W2RC ‘Challenger’ group – result (unofficial):

1. Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno Huete (ESP) Taurus T3 Max53hr 59min 47sec*
2. Mitch Guthrie (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) Taurus T3 Max54hr 35min 33sec
3. Rokas Baciuška (LTU)/Oriol Vidal (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo 54hr 58min 34sec
4. Francisco Lopez (CHL)/Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo55hr 11min 07sec*
5. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo55hr 44min 34sec
6. Saleh Al-Saif (SAU)/Nasser Al-Kuwari (QAT) G Rally Team OT357hr 11min 14sec*
7. Marcelo Tiglia Gastaldi (BRA)/Carlos Sachs (BRA) Taurus T3 Max57hr 53min 35sec
8. Ricardo Porém (PRT)/Augusto Sanz (PRT) Can-Am MMP T3 Rally-Raid58hr 46min 29sec
9. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG)/Valentina Pertegarini (ARG) Taurus T3 Max60hr 36min 06sec
*denotes NOT registered for W2RC 


Rally leaders

PrologueEryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS1-6Eryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS7-11Mitch Guthrie (Taurus T3 Max)
SS12Cristina Gutiérrez (Taurus T3 Max)


Stage winners

PrologueEryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS1Eryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS2Eryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS3Mitch Guthrie (Taurus T3 Max)
SS4Eryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS5Francisco Lopez (Can-Am)
SS6Eryk Goczal (Taurus T3 Max)
SS7Mitch Guthrie (Taurus T3 Max)
SS8Saleh Al-Saif (OT3)
SS9 Nicolás Cavigliasso (Taurus)
SS10Marcelo Tiglia Gastaldi (Taurus)
SS11 Nicolás Cavigliasso (Taurus)
SS12Marcelo Tiglia Gastaldi (Taurus)


W2RC ‘SSV’ group – result (unofficial):

1. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA)/Martin Bonnet (FRA) Polaris RZR Pro R56hr 37min 43sec*
2. Jérôme de Sadeleer (CHE)/Michael Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo56hr 40min 08sec*
3. Yasir Seaidan (SAU)/Adrien Metge (FRA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo57hr 42min 11sec
4. Sara Price (USA)/Jeremy Gray (USA) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo57hr 48min 58sec
5. João Ferreira (PRT)/Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo57hr 56min 35sec
6. Sebastian Guayasamin (ECU)/Fernando Acosta (ARG) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo60hr 20min 44sec
7. Cristiano Batista (BRA)/Fausto Moto (PRT) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo61hr 10min 31sec
8. Gerard Farrés (ESP)/Diego Ortega (ESP) Can-Am Maverick XRS Turbo61hr 20min 04sec*
*denotes NOT registered for W2RC 


Rally leaders

PrologueXavier de Soultrait (Polaris)
SS1Rodrigo Varela (Can-Am)
SS2-4Gerard Farrés (Can-Am)
SS5Jérôme de Sadeleer (Can-Am)
SS6Yasir Seaidan (Can-Am)
SS7-12Xavier de Soultrait (Polaris)


Stage winners

PrologueXavier de Soultrait (Polaris)
SS1Rodrigo Varela (Can-Am)
SS2Gerard Farrés (Can-Am)
SS3Yasir Seaidan (Can-Am)
SS4João Ferreira (Can-Am)
SS5Xavier de Soultrait (Polaris)
SS6Xavier de Soultrait (Polaris)
SS7João Ferreira (Can-Am)
SS8João Ferreira (Can-Am)
SS9Cristiano de Sousa Batista (Can-Am)
SS10Sara Price (Can-Am)
SS11Jérôme de Sadeleer (Can-Am)
SS12Florent Vayssade (Polaris)