The conclusion of the Dakar Rally on Saturday had little drama, but plenty of joy for the top three drivers in the car class. South African Giniel de Villiers, above, won the final stage to earn his first Dakar overall title and in so doing earned Volkswagen its first title in the famed endurance event. It also was the first time a diesel-powered car won the class.
"It's just incredible. I never felt this way," de Villiers told dakar.com. "... I was so nervous in the last kilometers. I kept looking at how many kilometers we still had to go. But I must say this is an incredible feeling. I am so thrilled for the whole team, for Volkswagen that supported us for five years before we could get to this victory."
De Villiers' VW teammate, American Mark Miller, likewise notched his best Dakar overall finish in second. And NASCAR star Robby Gordon earned his first podium finish in his fifth Dakar Rally. The Volkswagen dominance -- wins in 10 of the 13 stages -- was a fresh twist for the event dominated by Mitsubishi in recent years.
In motorbikes, Spain's Marc Coma completed his quest to win his second Dakar title. The steady Coma earned three stage wins and finished no worse than third in nine stages. His closest rival, France's Cyril Despres, finished second overall, 1 hour, 25 minutes, 38 seconds back. Another Frenchman, David Fretigne, rounded out the podium.
Go here for more news, complete results and standings. For some great video blogs from the 2009 Dakar Rally, including one showing Gordon flipping his Hummer on Stage 4, check out the Team Dakar USA site here.