Mini driver Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, winner of the car category, left, and KTM rider Marc Coma of Spain, right, winner of the motorbike category, pose for a photo on the final day of the Dakar Rally 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Jan.
BARDERO, Argentina - Nasser al-Attiyah and Marc Coma avoided “last leg” drama to claim the car and bike titles respectively from the 2015 Dakar Rally which ended here on Saturday after more than 9000km.
South African Ginel de Villiers was 35min34 behind in second overall.
For each it was a case of renewed glory in the notoriously tough event described as rallying's Everest, with Qatari al-Attiyah having won the 2011 title and defending champion Coma claiming his fifth victory in the two-wheel category.
For Al-Attiyah's Mini team it was a fourth successive Dakar title and for Coma's KTM outfit a 14th victory overall. Al-Attiyah, 44, said: "The key was to remain in front each day, and that wasn't easy.”
'PROUD AND HAPPY'
He was sixth on the final Stage 13 from Rosario to Bardero, north of Buenos Aires, which was shortened to only 34km due to heavy rain.
"We had to work day after day but we did a great job with Mathieu (Baumel, his co-driver). I reckon experience helped in this second title, and training."
Coma said he was "proud and happy" to get his fifth Dakar victory. "To talk about a sixth title next year is still too early. I want to first of all enjoy this fifth win."
Al-Attiyah, who has also enjoyed success in the Olympic Games, winning bronze in skeet shooting at the 2012 Games in London, dominated from start to finish. He set down his marker for the title by posting the quickest time in Stage 1 leaving Buenos Aires a fortnight earlier.
He was subsequently stripped of the first stage for speeding but did not let that hiccup distract him as he bounced back to take the Stage 2. He eventually won five stages. Assisted by Frenchman Baumel, he dealt masterfully with all the Dakar could throw at him, from crossing the Andes to coping with Chile's Atacama Desert to Bolivia's salt flats.
In the curtailed closing stage, Robby Gordon came out on top, the American crossing the line more than half a minute clear of South Africa’s Leeroy Poulter in a South African-built Hilux.
Argentina's Emiliano Spataro was third.
Coma, a 38-year-old from Catalonia, equalled the number of titles held by French duo Cyril Neveu and Cyril Despres, who now competes in the car category for Peugeot, and one behind another Frenchman, Stephane Peterhansel.
Coma added: "Everyone was saying that the absence of Despres would make it easy for me but that was absolutely not the case."
Coma was joined on the final podium by Paulo Goncalves, riding a Honda and almost 17 minutes behind with Australia's Toby Price, on another KTM, third in the overall standings.
Saturday's closing 393km (101km timed) stage between Rosario and Baradero was won by Ivan Jakes of Slovakia. He was followed across the line by his compatriot Stefan Svitko with Price taking third for a KTM 1-2-3.
Organisers were forced to shorten the stage after heavy rain made sections of the road too dangerous.
Coma, fifth on Saturday’s stage, inherited the lead in the overall standings from Honda's Joan Barreda after Stage 8. He opened his Dakar account in 2006, the races then run in North Africa. He won again in 2009, the first time it was held in South America, adding the 2011, 2014 and now the 2015 title.
Finishing ninth overall was Laia Sanz, the 29-year-old Spaniard who bettered by one place the best-yet finish by a female rider.
TRUCKS AND QUADS
Russian Airat Mardeev won the trucks race and Rafal Sonik of Poland came out on top in quads.
More than half of the 406 competitors who set out two weeks earlier completed the rally – but one of those who did not was Polish motorcyclist Michal Hernik who died of hyperthermia and dehydration during Stage 3 from San Juan to Chilecito.
Hernik, 39, was found dead a few hundred metres from the track after a helicopter was sent to look for him when he failed to turn up at the finish and his tracker stopped transmitting.
His was the fifth death since the rally was moved to South America to avoid the threat of violence in the Sahara desert and the 24th since the race was created in 1979.
Overall rally results after Stage 13
of the 2015 Dakar Rally on Saturday from Rosario to Buenos Aires
1 Nasser al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel
(QAT/FRA/Mini) 40hr32min25 (penalty 2min00)
2 Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) +35min344
3 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (POL/FRA/Mini) +1hr32min01
4 Erik Van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NED/NED/Mini) +3hr013hr12min41 (penalty
5 Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS/RUS/Mini) +3hr12min41
6 Christian Lavieille/Pascal Maimon (FRA/FRA/Toyota) +3hr15min58
7 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) +3hr42min02
8 Carlos Sousa/Paulo Fiuza (POR/POR/Mitsubishi) +3hr44min59 (penalty 40min00)
9 Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Anton Nikolaev (KAZ/RUS/Mini) (penalty 30sec)
10 Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot (FRA/FRA/Smg) +4hr42min46
1 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) 46hr03min49
2 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) +16min53 (penalty 16min00)
3 Toby Price (AUS/KTM) +23min14
4 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) +38min38
5 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +44min17
6 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +1hr57min50 (penalty 40min00)
7 David Casteu (FRA/KTM) +2hrs00min14
8 Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) +2hr18min18
9 Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) +2hr24min21
10 Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) +3hr09min09
End of the road for the 2015 Dakar - Stage 13, Rosario to Buenos Aires
Stage 13 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary - (Rosario... by Dakar