The final stage of the 2020 Dakar took place today where anything could still change and nothing was guaranteed. The last hundred kilometers of Stage 12 gave navigators just as many headaches as the previous week did with one exception, the finish line was in sight. A 20 km special section, with no impact on the general classification, also selected the winner of the “Qiddiyah Trophy,” immediately before climbing onto the final podium.
The stage started with Blade Hildebrand, racing under Dakar Experience rules since his withdrawal in stage 2, pushing to get yet another stage win in his first-ever Dakar. Hildebrand was over a minute faster than Sergey Karyakin at km 69.
After more than 7,500 kilometers of dust, pain, and rallying in Saudi Arabia the final stage of the Dakar 2020 was complete. This year’s rally may have not gone as well as hoped but the 2018 Dakar champion, Reinaldo Varela, was able to bounce back to finish the race on a high note. Varela won his second stage and won by 24 seconds over Blade Hildebrand.
On the same day that American Ricky Brabec won the motorbike race, Casey Currie capped a great day for the USA in Saudi Arabia with his first victory in the SSV category. Racing in his second Dakar, Currie took home the win by 39 minutes over Sergey Karyakin in the general classification.
“Two Americans on top! I’m blown away, man,” Currie explained. “Sean and my team did a phenomenal job. The car ran great all the time. It’s just an epic experience, and I’ll never forget it, for sure. This is my most emotional win ever. The amount of pressure that was on me was incredible. I love this rally! We’re coming back next year to defend our title. I’m very stoked for Ricky Brabec, he deserves it more than I do.”
Former quad champion Sergey Karyakin finished as runner-up in this year’s SSV race. “Sometimes, it was rough. Sometimes, I was not really lucky,” Karyakin said. “But I still think second place is a good thing. We enjoyed the race, we like how the scenery changes, it’s not like in Peru, where you only have sand, sand, sand, sand. So boring. I hope next year there will be more driving stages than going on straights, but the Dakar is still the best race in the world. Next year, we have to improve and improve our car. I’m pretty happy with my team and my co-driver.”
“Chaleco” López won the Dakar in Lima last year but would have to settle for the third-place podium finish. A mechanical in the stage after the rest day pushed him behind Currie and Karyakin making it nearly impossible to catch back up.
“Finishing on the podium is good, but the second week didn’t go well for us,” López said. “We had a huge problem the day before yesterday, so a podium place isn’t that bad after all. The first edition in Saudi Arabia was interesting, I’m sure the rally will be even better next year.”
This year’s Dakar is one for the record books marking the first time an American winning the rally and that happened not once, but twice. We as Americans have come along way in the Dakar rally and now have our names etched in the record books. With the performance of the young-guns, Blade Hildebrand and Mitch Guthrie Jr., for America that winning tradition has a very strong chance of continuing for years to come.