The “King of Cross Country Rally Raids”, Nasser Al- Attiyah, in a Toyota Gazoo Racing Hi-Lux made his intentions clear on the first stage of the Dakar Rally that started in Lima this morning.He laid down the marker on the first stage and although it was a short stage Al-Attiyah did not hang around. He won the stage by 45 seconds from last years winner, Carlos Sainz in a Mini.
The way the top competitors got their rally off to a fast start has proved that this year’s Dakar is going to be a closely run affair. After the first stage the difference between Al-Attiyah in 1st provisionally overall and Cyril Despres in another Mini in 9th overall was only 1.49 sceonds.
And it once again seems clear that this year it is again going to be a fight for the top position between the X-Raid Mini’s and the Toyota Gazoo Hi-Lux entries.
This years FIA World Cross Country Champion Jacob Przygonski in another Mini was third 2.00 behind the leader.
Vladimir Vasilyev in another Toyota was forth 2.18 behind followed by Yazeed Al-Rahji in anothet Toyota
2.28 off the pace.
In sixth provisionally overall was the South African Giniel de Villiers in a Toyota Gazoo Racing Hi-Lux 2.40 behind the leader.
They were followed by Stephane Peterhansel, in a Mini, Bernard Ten Brinke in a Toyota Gazoo Racing Hi-Lux and Harry Hunt in a Peugeot DKR.
Returning to the Dakar this time behind the wheel of a 2017 Peugeot 3008 entered by the private team PH Sport, Sébastien Loeb encountered difficulties on the first stage. Sand has never been one of the favourite terrains of the man from Alsace who has lost more than 6 minutes to the day’s stage winner.
Tomorrow’s stage from Pisco to Jan Juan de Marcona includes 342km of specal stage and is seen by the competitors as the real start of the 2019 Dakar.
Favourites rule on Stage 1
Motorcycle competitors that have made names for themselves of previous years’ Dakar Rally Raid, once again showed that they have the experience to conquer any type of stage that they are presented with.
Altought today’s stage was a short one in spite of a 200 km link to get to the start, Joan Barredo Port set a very fast pace to finish the stage first and as such ensure that he has pole position for the actual start of the rally tomorrow.
He finished the stage on his Honda 1.34 seconds ahead of Pablo Quintilla on a Husqvarna.
Third todat was the American Ricky Brabec, also on a Honda, 2.52 seconds behind Port. Surprisingly Antonie van Beveren on a Yamaha was fourth 2.55 behind followed by Sam Sunderland on a KTM, on 2.56 with his teammate Ricky Price 5th 3.08 behind.
The KTM team entered the Dakar as favourites after dominating the past few years and it was expected that they wpuld be the team to beat. But there is still a long way to go.
It was not a good day for the South Africans and the best performance was by Kenny Gilbert on a Husqvarna who finished in 39th place 17.42 seconds behind the leader.