The 40th anniversary edition of the Dakar Rally kicked off from Lima Peru, on Saturday 6 January, when over 500 offroaders were waved off from the start line.
The crowds came out in force as the Dakar returned to Peru’s capital city after an absence of five years. Former champions, local heroes and absolute beginners all embarked on trip from Lima’s city centre streets to the desert dunes of Pisco.
With more than 9 000km in total to travel over a two-week period the Dakar is a marathon rather than a sprint. However, stage one’s timed course of 31km is by far the shortest day of racing at this year’s event.
The fastest car though the sandy stage close to Peru’s Pacific Ocean shoreline belonged to Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA), both part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. The duo drilled their Toyota Hilux over the dunes to end the day with an early lead of the overall standings.
“We’re happy with today’s time but tomorrow is another day so we must prepare to do our best again.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Al-Attiyah currently leads reigning car champs Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA) by over two minutes after the opening stage.
Stéphane Peterhansel: “Proportionally, we lost a lot of time to Nasser. Two minutes in 30 kilometres is a lot, but we need to ease into the race, it’ll work out.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah #301: “This is going to be a long and really tough race, we know this. We’re happy we could get a fast time today. Tomorrow is another day so we must prepare to do our best again. We’re full of confidence ahead of another day on the dunes.”
Source: Red Bull Desert Wings