From January 7 to January 17 took place the 41st Edition of the world's toughest rally, the Dakar Rally 2019 in Perú.
Before the games began, many have thought the rally would be easier because it would be shorter and with only one country involved.
The ones who know the rally the better, the contenders are the ones who have proven them wrong.
Among the contenders, the opinion was the same, that this has been one of the toughest editions ever, but it´s fairly to say that it was two-time Dakar Rally champions Carlos Sainz who first brought the attention to this matter.
"Peru was the key to the rally last year. There were a lot of retirements after the five stages that were run there. It is going to be a very difficult rally," he said in an interview for the Dakar Press.
With twelve entries now on his shoulders, Sainz knows what he is talking about and time has only proven him right.
Stage 1 began in Lima with 137 bikes, 26 quads, 130 cars (which 30 are SxS) and 41 trucks, completing a total of 334 vehicles.
Today, the final stage (10) began with 94 bikes & quads, 88 cars & SxS, 31 trucks, a total of 121 abandons.
One stage was tougher than the previous one, but it was really after the Marathon Stages (4 and 5) followed by a much-deserved rest day in Arequipa, when the desert with its dunes, rocks, sand and dense fog in the morning, started to play some tricks on the riders.
One of the favorites saw how his chances vanished in a fraction of a second in his third participation in the Dakar.
Yesterday, Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren suffered a broken engine with his Yamaha WR4050F bike when he was fifth in the overall ranking.
All hopes of a podium finish vanished, although finishing the stage 3 hours and a half behind the winner.
The legend Stephane Peterhansel also retired on Stage 9.
The 13-time Dakar winner dropped out with his X-Raid Mini John Cooper Works Buggy, after his co-driver, David Castera hurt his back.
The Stage 8 was crucial to Carlos Sainz, he got stuck in the sand losing valuable time, the Spaniard had also lost time in previous stages due to a puncture and a broken suspension.
Despite having lost all possibilities to defend his title, the two-time champion decided to keep going and today has won the last stage of the competition, fighting until the end.
Teammate Cyril Despres also suffered many problems along the way, a disappointing Dakar indeed for the Frenchman.
2009 Dakar winner Giniel De Villiers also suffered in the dunes of Peru, getting stuck and losing time but as he pointed out, his hopes vanished when they hit a stone "The engine mounting broke, and then the engine fell on the water cooler, and then the water cooler broke and then we had to stop to repair. "We were very unlucky. We were going really well," the experienced South African later explained.
In the final stages, he fulfilled his role as a water carrier for his teammate Al-Attiyah. " Very happy for the team," he said after the end of Stage 9.
Some favorites, on the other hand, confirmed the expectations, crossing the finish line victorious.
Nasser Al-Attiyah has won today his third Dakar Rally, his first behind the wheel of a Toyota Hilux.
The two-time Dakar winner, Spaniard Nani Roma who had to retire last year, finished second in the overall with his Mini 4x4.
Sebastien Loeb is third after overcoming many problems along the 10 Stages with his Peugeot customer PH Sport 2017-spec, the 3008DKR.
Carlos Saiz may not have won the rally but his resilience paid off.
He won the final stage, followed by Loeb and Cyril Despres.
After having surgery on his right wrist a few weeks before the rally started, Toby Price became the ultimate Dakar Hero. The Australian battled against the Peruvian desert giving his everything and more to win his second Dakar.
It's been extraordinary to watch him drive in such an extraordinary way.
"The pain and torture has been worth it," said the Australian.
The KTM Factory Team has confirmed its supremacy with Price at the top of the podium, 2016 champion Matthias Walkner in second and 2017 winner Sam Sunderland in third after the team appealed a one-hour penalty, revoked today.
Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla fall during the final stage, losing almost 20 minutes to the leader when he was running second in the general standings, nevertheless, he managed to finish the final stage with an injured foot (probably a fracture) fourth in the overall standings.
Argentinian Nicolas Cavigliasso has been winning from the beginning till the end, an exceptional performance in only his second participation.
Jere Gonzalez finished in second overall, followed by G. Gallego.
TRUCKS: The Russians have dominated the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally in Peru.
Eduard Nikolaev won his fourth Dakar (third-in-a-row) followed by Dmitry Sotnikov and Gerard de Rooy in third.
Ton Van Genugten won the final stage today.
SxS: The category stole the show with a vehicle that has proven to be fast, reliable and a more affordable option to many participants.
The Chilean Francisco Lopez is the 2019 champion, followed by Spaniard Gerard Farres and Brazilian Reinaldo Varela who also won the final stage.