Sainz completes 2018 Dakar rally victory, Walkner wins bike class

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"Tomorrow, the 14th and last leg of this Dakar - will be a short stage; and anything can happen", said David Casteu, Team Manager, Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team.

The cars and trucks, which were due to take a different route, will continue as planned. The rally ends in Cordoba on Saturday.

Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz has been at the head of the field ever since the conclusion of stage seven, and despite finishing the final 119-kilometre stage down in ninth position, losing three minutes and nineteen seconds to de Villiers, he was comfortably clear of the pack in the final reckoning. The strong result has helped catapult the Spanish rider from 14th to 11th in the general classifications, with just one stage left to go. But Sainz 's bid was strengthened further after officials chose to rescind a 10-minute penalty imposed on Monday for a unsafe overtake of a quad bike competitor.

Peugeot's works team, who won the previous two Dakars with Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, had already announced their departure after this year's edition.

That left Al-Attiyah to take an easy stage win from a delighted Villagra, with De Villiers third in a Toyota 1-2-3 ahead of the Minis of Jakub Przygonski and Mikko Hirvonen, fourth and fifth from Sainz in sixth.

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"It was really hard work and I'm quite happy to finish second".

Race leader Carlos Sainz (pictured above) took the sensible approach of driving cautiously to the finish and letting the battle commence in front of him.

Stage 12 of the rally between Fiambala and San Juan of 723 km has been cancelled owing to weather conditions for the bikes and quads category. "I'll try to do my best and we'll see what happens". Ton van Genugten won the stage.

Sainz, father of the Renault Formula One driver of the same name, ended the penultimate 13th stage from San Juan to Cordoba with a lead of 46 minutes and 18 seconds over Toyota's Nasser al-Attiyah.