Qiddiyah, Saudi Arabia: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah saved his best for the last and won the final stage of the Dakar Rally, but it came too late as veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz won the rally for the third time on Friday.
The 57-year-old led from the third stage and crossed the finish line in Qiddiya 6min 21sec ahead of nearest challenger and reigning champion Al Attiyah of Qatar, who had managed to cut Sainz's lead to just 24 seconds on Tuesday but fell back after navigation mistakes.
Three-time champion Al Attiyah rued the mistakes but vowed to come back strongly next year.
"I'm quite happy, we did a good job to finish second even though we wanted to win," said the 2019 champion.
"We made two or three mistakes along the way and had loads of punctures, but I'm rather happy. I'm elated that we are racing here. I'm coming back to win next year. I just needed a bit more luck," he said.
Stephane Peterhansel was third at 9 min 58 sec behind in his Mini. Both the Frenchman and Sainz won four stages each in the marathon 12-day, 7,800-kilometre (4,800-mile) race.
Ricky Brabec won the motorbike section for Honda, becoming the first US rider to triumph in the gruelling race.
This decision to stage the race in Saudi Arabia this year and for at least the next four years sparked an angry reaction from critics of the kingdom's human rights record.