Carlos Sainz has secured victory in the Dakar Rally for the first time after holding off the challenge of Volkswagen team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Al-Attiyah has been as far as ten minutes behind Sainz in the overall standings but closed in on the final stages to heads into the final test to the Argentine capital Buenos Aires with a realistic chance of beating Sainz to the crown.
However, despite seeing Al-Attiyah secure victory on the final stage, Sainz held on to take victory by just over two minutes.
"I have fulfilled a dream by winning the Dakar,” Sainz said. “An enormous weight has fallen from my shoulders particularly as the fight for victory was extremely hard both physically and enormously exhausting mentally. I'm incredibly happy to have achieved this goal after having been so close to victory on several occasions.
“Everything ran perfectly for me: My co-driver Lucas Cruz did an excellent job, from the technical side the Race Touareg ran like clockwork and the entire Volkswagen squad worked tirelessly for the win. Thank you for this.”
Al-Attiyah settled for second place while Mark Miller ensured a perfect result for VW by taking third – albeit more than half an hour behind the winner.
Former winner Stephane Peterhansel led the BMW challenge in fourth place, while the first of the privately-entered Mitsubishis in the hands of Carlos Sousa was sixth. Robby Gordon's Hummer – a stage winner earlier in the event – took eighth.