The 2019 Dakar Rally is underway. On Monday, 130 cars, 137 bikes, 26 quads and 41 trucks left Lima, Peru to complete the first stage. After a 247-kilometre road section, the competitors faced an 84km special before a finish in Pisco.
In the car category, two-time Dakar winner Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Toyota took the stage win, beating reigning champion Carlos Sainz and his X-Raid Mini by almost two minutes. In third place was Jakub Przygonski in his Mini All4 Racing.
Al-Attiyah said, “The stage was tricky, not easy. There was a good line from the bikes, and we didn’t push a lot. The last 10km, we caught Carlos and tried to stay behind him until the finish. Today was not a short stage, full sand, it wasn’t easy. And tomorrow will be similar.”
Sainz’ teammates, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres, took respectively seventh and 10th. A proof of the close bond between both drivers, they’ve switched co-pilots ahead of the event.
Motorsport legend Sébastien Loeb, racing as a privateer, took 13th position.
Loeb said: “We drove correctly. We didn’t want to take any risk; it wasn’t our objective on this stage. We’re getting into the rhythm, we didn’t make any mistake, and we finished the stage.”
In the bike category, Joan Barreda and his Honda won ahead of Pablo Quintanilla on the Husqvarna factory bike, in second place, with teammate Ricky Brabec, in third. Sam Sunderland from Red Bull KTM Factory Team took fifth, ahead of the other KTM riders Toby Price (sixth) and Matthias Walkner (seventh).
Walkner, who won the 2018 edition, said: “The pace is quite high because we have a lot of lines [in the dunes]. It was quite an easy navigation, and it was really fast. It’s good to be racing.”
In the quad category, Nicolas Cavigliasso beat Jeremías González Ferioli by almost four minutes, with Tomas Kubiena in third.
Four-time winner Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz-Master) won the truck class ahead of Ton van Genugten in second and Federico Villagra in third.
On Tuesday, the cars will open the track from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona, with 211km of roads followed by 342km of desert racing.