Spanish driver Carlos Sainz wins the Dakar Rally for the third time

QIDDIYA: Spanish Carlos Sainz became a triple Dakar Rally Champion with the Mini X-Raid team on Friday, while American Ricky Brabec took the motorcycle crown for Honda and ended KTM's dominance for 18 years.

Both are the first winners in Saudi Arabia, a country that makes its debut as host of the exhausting resistance event, but they have to reach the formal end in Qiddiya before the results are official.

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Brabec is the first American to win the Dakar in any category since it began as a race from Paris through the Sahara desert to the Senegalese capital in West Africa in 1979.

The two-time world rally champion Sainz, whose son and namesake competes in Formula One for McLaren, finished the final timed stage with a six-minute and 21-second lead over Qatari defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah.

Sainz, 57, also won in 2010 and 2018 when the rally was held in South America.

His three victories have been with different car manufacturers, the first with Volkswagen and the second in a Peugeot.

Triple champion Al Attiyah won the final stage to finish as Toyota's runner-up with Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, a winner 13 times on two and four wheels, completing the first three in his 31st Dakar.