‘El Matador’ was on his way to bringing it all together on this first edition in South America. Carlos Sainz, who had already won nine stages in two participations in Africa, wanted to confirm his rally-raid conversion with an overall victory on the world’s most difficult race. In a Volkswagen that won the technological battle with Mitsubishi, the Spaniard dominated the general classification ahead of two of his team mates. The big dune stages in the Atacama Desert were behind him but his misreading of the road book, three days from the arrival, sent him into a Rio. Co-driver Michel Perin was injured and they were forced to retire, leaving South Africa’s Giniel De Villiers to become the first to drive on to the winner’s podium in Buenos Aires.