MEPUNGA quad bike rider Paul Smith is a Dakar Rally finisher.
Smith placed an exceptional seventh in the quad bikes class after 14 stages braving the South American outback.
The 34-year-old dairy farmer finished the iconic event in 55 hours, 28 minutes and 51 seconds.
He was 5.46.09 behind the winner, Argentinean Marcos Patronelli, who was the only rider to break the 50-hour mark.
Smith was rapt at conquering the rally, writing on his Facebook page “Whoo hoooo. Dakar finisher!!!!!!!”
“7th place. Stage win and I get my finishers medal tomorrow. Dream come true.
“Heaps of pics and vid to come when I get back. Thanks heaps for all your words of support.”
The result and the sheer fact he finished one of world motorsport’s toughest events at his first attempt means Smith will return to Australia to a hero’s welcome.
He claimed stage 11 of the rally, a 221-kilometre journey from La Rioja to Fiambala in Argentina, and was around the mark in most of the other legs.