Nani Roma claimed the Dakar Rally on Saturday after teammate Stephane Peterhansel allowed the Spaniard through for the win, suggesting that the team orders issued on Thursday were being followed by the Mini drivers.
The two were separated by 26 seconds ahead of the final 157 kilometre stage from La Serena to Valparaiso, but the Frenchman stopped 24kms from the end to let Nasser Al-Attiyah and then Roma to catch up for a formation finish for Mini.
“Let’s look on the bright side of things. The car didn’t miss a beat, it took anything we threw at it, like usual, and we had lots of fun driving,” he said. “But I’m frustrated with the final result. The third thing I want to say is that Nani’s my friend, and I’m pleased to see him happy because it’s been his dream for ten years, since he shifted to a car.”
It was Roma’s second Dakar win, exactly a decade after his triumph with KTM in the motorcycle category, and has become only the third man to win the event on both two and four wheels along with Peterhansel and Hubert Auriol.
“I don’t know if this was the most stressful thing I’d ever done, but it was very tough,” he said. “The second week, with difficult, long stages, wasn’t easy. I’m going to revel in this. Ten years to the day after winning on a motorcycle, I’ve won in a car.”
Roma dedicated the win, which he clinched by over five minutes, to his former co-driver Henri Magne, who died when the pair was racing in the Morocco Rally in 2006.
Seven Minis featured in the top ten, with Giniel de Villiers’ Toyota classified fourth overall. The South African topped the final stage, just 23 seconds ahead of Krzysztof Holowczyc and 41 seconds ahead of Vladimir Vasilyev.
Eight Minis finished in the top ten in the final stage, with Roma more than a minute off the pace in fourth and Al-Attiyah nearly five minutes adrift in ninth. The Qatari, however, managed to hold on to the final podium slot.
This was Mini’s third straight win at the Dakar Rally and in a testament to reliability, all its 11 cars that started the event finished.
KTM rider Marc Coma won his fourth Dakar in the motorcycle class.
Leading stage 13 results: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Giniel de Villiers Imperial Toyota 1h57m07s 2. Krzysztof Holowczyc X-raid Mini +23s 3. Vladimir Vasilyev X-raid Mini +41s 4. Nani Roma X-raid Mini +1m40s 5. Orlando Terranova X-raid Mini +1m53s 6. Christian Lavieille Haval +2m57s 7. Federico Villagra X-raid Mini +3m09s 8. Martin Kaczmarski X-raid Mini +4m45s 9. Nasser Al-Attiyah X-raid Mini +4m51s 10. Boris Garafulic X-raid Mini +6m59s Leading overall finishers after stage 13: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Nani Roma X-raid Mini 50h44m58s 2. Stephane Peterhansel X-raid Mini +5m38s 3. Nasser Al-Attiyah X-raid Mini +56m52s 4. Giniel de Villiers Imperial Toyota +1h19m07s 5. Orlando Terranova X-raid Mini +1h27m44s 6. Krzysztof Holowczyc X-raid Mini +3h55m42s 7. Marek Dabrowski Orlen Toyota +5h34m25s 8. Christian Lavieille Haval +5h35m50s 9. Martin Kaczmarski X-raid Mini +6h58m12s 10. Vladimir Vasilyev X-raid Mini +6h59m34s