Volkswagen has plenty to celebrate this year in the deserts of South America. The German team claimed its second consecutive podium lock-out and its third consecutive overall victory in the brutal Dakar Rally. But if you think it was business as usual, take a look at who took the winner's trophy – Qatari national Nasser Al-Attiyah is the first Arab to win the desert rally in its 33-year history.
All four of teams of the new Race Touareg 3 not only finished the race – which is more than could be said of the new X-Raid Mini Countryman – but they took four out of the top six spots, with American driver Mark Miller coming in sixth behind two of X-Raid's BMW X3s. The Star-Spangled Banner was held just as high, though, by the team of Sue Mead and Darren Skilton who took the OP class trophy north to the United States behind the wheel of their Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.
Unfortunately, this year's rally wasn't all fun and games, and sadly claimed a life in the process: according to reports, an Argentinean Toyota team struck the vehicle of non-competing motorist, killing the victim and prompting local officials to conduct an inquiry to establish the circumstances. For the full press release on this year's Dakar events, follow the jump.
Related GalleryVolkswagen wins 2011 Dakar Rally
VOLKSWAGEN DEFENDS DAKAR RALLY TITLE FOR THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Volkswagen has claimed overall victory in the Dakar Rally for the third consecutive year, and defended the 1-2-3 podium lock-out result of last year crowning a successful premiere for the Race Touareg 3 on the event. Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar, with his German co-driver Timo Gottschalk, finished the final stage with the second quickest time and an overall winning margin of 49m 41s.
This year's result sees Al-Attiyah become the first Arab in the desert classic's history to be presented with the Dakar winners' trophy, now in its 33rd year. The back-to-back hat-trick of victories means that Volkswagen is still unbeaten since the famous event moved to South America.
Four diesel-powered Race Touareg 3s competed, and completed, the gruelling 9,600 kilometre course through Argentina and Chile, winning 12 out of the 13 stages between them and remaining at the top of the timesheets throughout.
The two previous title holders of the rally joined Al-Attiyah and Gottscahlk on the podium in Buenos Aries with the 2009 winners Giniel de Villers and Dirk von Zitzewitz claiming second overall, and last year's winners Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz finishing third. The fourth Volkswagen pairing of Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford completed the solid Volkswagen team performance in sixth position.
With seven stage victories, including the 13th and final stage of the Rally, Carlos Sainz broke the record for the highest number of stage wins on the Dakar. This victory took his tally to 24, overtaking the previous record-holder and Volkswagen's closest rival on this year's Dakar, Stéphane Peterhansel.
Final result after leg 13, Córdoba (RA)–Buenos Aires (RA); 181/826 km SS 13/total
|Pos||Team||Vehicle||Leg 13||Total time|
|1||Al-Attiyah / Gottschalk (Q/D)||Volkswagen Race Touareg 3||1h 16m 46s (2)||45h 16m 16s|
|2||de Villiers / von Zitzewitz (ZA/D)||Volkswagen Race Touareg 3||1h 18m 06s (4)||+ 49m 41s|
|3||Sainz / Cruz (E/E)||Volkswagen Race Touareg 3||1h 16m 08s (1)||+ 1h 20m 38s|
|4||Peterhansel / Cottret (F/F)||BMW X3 CC||1h 19m 05s (6)||+ 1h 43m 48s|
|5||Holowczyc / Fortin (PL/B)||BMW X3 CC||1h 17m 33s (3)||+ 4h 11m 21s|
|6||Miller / Pitchford (USA/ZA)||Volkswagen Race Touareg 3||1h 18m 10s (5)||+ 4h 54m 42s|
|7||dos Santos / Fiuza (P/P)||BMW X3 CC||1h 27m 16s (11)||+ 6h 50m 07s|
|8||Lavieille / Polato (F/F)||Nissan Proto||1h 25m 07s (10)||+ 7h 57m 18s|
|9||Spinelli / Haddad (BR/BR)||Mitsubishi Racing Lancer||1h 20m 06s (7)||+ 8h 23m 37s|
|10||Kahle / Schünemann (D/D)||Buggy SMG||1h 28m 02s (12)||+ 15h 11m 56s|