The win was the third consecutive Dakar victory for Volkswagen, who was completely dominant in this year’s race: taking out 12 of a possible 13 stages.
Standing beside Al-Attiyah and Gottschalk on the podium was the second-placed pair of Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz, and third-placed Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz.
The overall winning time was 45 hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds, almost 50 minutes clear of second place and more than one hour and 40 minutes ahead of the first non-Volkswagen finisher – a BMW X3 CC in fourth position.
The fourth and final Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 – piloted by Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford – finished in sixth position overall.
The result means Volkswagen remains the only manufacturer to win Dakar’s automobile category with a diesel engine. Volkswagen has not recorded a single technically related retirement in cross-country rallying in four years.
The 230kW 2.5-litre five-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engines covered 9600km in the four Race Touareg 3 vehicles and endured temperatures of close to 60 degrees Celsius. Other treacherous conditions included gravel roads, soft and deep desert sand, washed-out riverbeds, canyons and river crossings.
The winning driver, Al-Attiyah, was ecstatic with the 2011 Dakar victory at the conclusion of the final stage.
“My first Dakar win. I’m absolutely delighted to have been the first Arab to win the world’s toughest desert rally.
“These feelings are incredibly difficult to express in words. I reached my greatest goal thanks to the world’s best cross country rally car and the best team in this sport.
“I’m delighted for the entire squad which slaved around the clock for three weeks for this victory. In Timo Gottschalk I have an exceptional co-driver at my side, who played an immense role in this victory. Today we’ll party like there’s no tomorrow.”
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