Dakar Rally, who won it most?

Dakar Rally, formerly known as the “Paris-Dakar Rally” is the biggest off-road endurance event that has been held annually since 1979 and, as the name says, initally ran between Paris and Dakar, capital cities of France and Senegal, for over 27 years, before moving to South America and since 2020 to Saudi Arabia.

Drivers and riders can attend the Dakar using either motorcyle, quad, car (from buggies to small SUVs), SSV or truck and as they and their vehicles face the toughest conditions which include extreme heat, dunes, mud, rocks and sand, the Dakar really demands the best of both.

So who had the ability to cope with these conditions best?

Motorbikes | Quads | Cars | Trucks | UTVs

When it comes to manufacturer’s success, the Austrian KTM notably dominates the motorbike category, with consecutive top positions from 2001 to 2019 and one in 2023, resulting in a total of 19 wins. On second place you find Yamaha with 9 wins, followed by another Japanese manufacturer Honda with 7, stopping the KTM’s winning streak in 2020. Then you can find Cagiva with 2 and Gas Gas who took the win in 2022.

Having a reliable motorbike is just one part, while a skilled rider is the part that brings home the win and there are 4 riders who finished on top once: Ricky Brabec, Matthias Walkner, Nani Roma and Gilles Lalay.
Six riders stepped on top of the final podium twice: Sam Sunderland, Hubert Auriol, Gaston Rahier, Fabrizio Meoni, Toby Price and Kevin Benavides.
The French domination of the class starts with Richard Sainct with 3 victories, while Italian Edi Orioli won 4 and Spaniard Marc Coma sharing the second position of 5 wins together with French duo Cyril Despres and Cyril Neveu.
And the best of them all, they don’t call him Mr. Dakar for no reason, with 6 motorbike wins under his name, Mr. Stephane Peterhansel!

As mentioned, the French domination really stands out as together they count 22 wins, followed by Italy and Spain with 6, Belgium, Australia, UK and Argentina with 2 and Austria and USA with 1.

Quads were a subdivision of the motorbikes prior to 2009, while since the separation they are classified into two subgroups, 3.1. for two-wheel drive quads with maximum engine displacement of 750cc and 3.2 for four-wheel driver and a displacement of 900cc.

An undoubted winner between the manufacturers is Yamaha with all 15 wins since 2009 as their Raptor 700R has proven to be the best in the toughest conditions. Honda, Polaris and Can-Am have been able to take some stage wins, but the overall win is yet to reach.

There are 5 riders who won it once – Manuel Andujar, Nicolas Cavigliasso, Sergey Karyakin, Rafal Sonik and Josef Machaček. Two wins were achieved by Alexandre Giroud and Alejandro Patronelli, while top position is split between Argentinian rider Marcos Patronelli and Ignacio Casale from Chile.

In terms of nationality, it might have something to do with the Dakar being held on their “home ground”, as it’s Argentina and Chile who dominate the scoreboard with 7 and 3 wins respectively, followed by France with 2 and Czech Republic, Poland and Russia with 1.

Car category has hosted several well known names from the rally world, including Carlos Sainz, Sebastien Loeb, Ari Vatanen and many more, but once again, it’s “Mr. Dakar” who tops the list, Stephane Peterhansel, after reaching 6 wins on a motorbike, with 8 more in the cars category.
Second position goes to Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah with 5 victories, followed by a rally legend Ari Vatanen who claimed 4.
The 3-time winners are also Rene Metge, Pierre Lartigue and Carlos Sainz, while Jean-Louis Schlesser and Hiroshi Mauoka have claimed two each.

Nationality-wise, it’s France once again to step on the top, with 23 victories, followed by Finland with 5, Spain and Qatar with 4, Japan with 3, Germany 2 and South Africa and Belgium 1.

On the manufacturer ranking, it’s Mitsubishi who tops the list with 7 consecutive wins from 2001 to 2007 out of 12 in total, followed by Peugeot with 7, Mini with 6, Citroen and Volkswagen with 4, Toyota with 3, Porsche, Range Rover and Schlesser with 2 and Mercedes and Renault with one.

The truck category is dominated by Russians, in terms of drivers as well as manufacturers, since it’s Kamaz who claimed 19 wins, followed by Czech Tatra with 6, Mercedes-Benz with 5, Perlini 4, Iveco with 3, and 5 manufacturers who won it once: Sonacome, ALM/Acmat, DAF, Hino and MAN.

But the drivers who took them there twice are Dmitry Sotnikov, Andrey Karginov, Gerard de Rooy, Firdaus Kabirov, Francesco Perlini and Georges Groine.
With 4 wins there is another Russian driver Eduard Nikolaev, while on the 2nd place we find Karel Loprais who claimed 6 for Czech Republic and of course, the top of the list goes to Vladimir Chagin, also called “The Tsar of Dakar”, won it 7 times.

Russia has 19 victories, followed by Czech Republic with 6, France and Netherlands with 5, Italy with 4 and Germany and Austria with one each.

SSVs have separated from cars category in 2017, which in 2021 separated into classes T3 (lightweight prototype) and T4 (modified production SSV).

Since it’s fairly new classification, there are no drivers that stand out with wins, but there is a manufacturer that does, as the SSV category has just one victory by Polaris in 2017, with the 6 others claimed by Can-Am and their Maverick SSV.

In terms of nationality, it’s Chile, Brazil and United States at 2, Poland with one.

With one rider win, we have Eryk Goczal, Austin Jones, Casey Currie, Reinaldo Varela, Leandro Torres, while Francisco Lopez Contardo has 2.

Interesting facts:
– After winning the 1987 edition, Ari Vatanen was ready to defend the title next year, but his Peugeot was stolen from the service area, resulting in disqualification for Vatanen, with event won by his teammate and compatriot Juha Kankkunen.
– Hiroshi Masuoka won two consecutive titles in car category in 2002 and 2003 and his actual car, the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution MPR10 is now available for sale on our marketplaces.
Jutta Kleinschmidt was the first woman to win the Dakar Rally in the car category in 2001 edition.
Citroen ZX Rallye Raid C11 was driven by three rally champions Vatanen, Waldegard and Salonen between 1991 and 1996.
– Kenjiro Shinozuka was the first non-European to win the event, in 1997.

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