Carlos Sainz reveals Dakar crash caused multiple spine fractures

World Rally legend and three-time Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz Sr has revealed that he sustained two fractures to his spine in the huge crash that forced him out of the 2023 event.

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The 60-year-old Spaniard, the father of Ferrari F1 racer of the same name, suffered a major shunt just six kilometres into Stage 9 of the Dakar, when his Audi rolled upside down while tackling a dune – landing heavily on its nose and then roof.

Sainz had initially looked set to withdraw from the event, and was even on his way to hospital after reporting chest pains, only to change his mind midway through the journey and ask the helicopter to turn around. Despite this attempt to return to the event, which he had led after the opening stage, his car was subsequently retired.

On Monday, he tweeted: “On my return to Madrid from the Dakar Rally, the back pain I suffered after the incident of this year’s event persisted longer than usual. Following medical advice, I underwent further checks to assess in detail the extent of the injury.

“Unfortunately, the results haven’t brought good news because I fractured the T5 and T6 vertebrae. The good thing is that both vertebrae are stable and from this day on my priority will be to recover as soon as possible.

“Thank you all for the love and support I have received over the last days. I will keep you updated.”


The T5 and T6 vertabrae are towards the top of the spine, placed between the shoulder blades.

Sainz suffered a frustrating Dakar after his positive early start, and was hit by a mechanical failure on Stage 3 that set him back. While in full-attack mode, to regain lost time, he suffered his first major crash on Stage 6, which tore a wheel off his car.

A victory on Stage 8 was stripped away from Sainz after he was caught speeding, which cost him a five-minute penalty.

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