‘The Dakar’ needs no introduction. It is the world’s toughest motorsport event and is now in its 41st edition. This year too, the Dakar is being held in South America for the eleventh successive year after shifting from the African continent in 2008. And now for the 2019 season, it will be held in the country of Peru only, so there won’t be any border crossing this time around. The flag-off took place in Lima, the capital of Peru on 6 January to the city of Pisco. Here is a detailed report after Stage 1.
Nasser Al-Attiyah of Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa dominated the first day completing the stage in 1:1:41 seconds. The Stage one comprised of 84-kilometres of special ‘dune’ section and 246-kilometres of the road section. The 48-year-old Kuwaiti driver with his co-driver Matthieu Baumel was the fastest in the Car category followed by Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz of X-Raid Mini JCW Team (1:03:40 seconds). The defending champion Sainz maintained a lead of a mere one second over Dakar Legend Jakub Przygonski of the Orlen X-Raid Team. Przygonski finished with a time of 1:03:41 seconds.
This is veteran Sainz’s first experience in the Mini in the Dakar. This meant that Nasser was quickest through all the time-checks of Stage 1. Meanwhile, Sainz’s teammate Stephane Peterhansel suffered a slow puncture and finished seventh behind Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Giniel De Villiers. On the other hand, Sebastien Loeb in his Peugeot 3008 DKR is having his first stint as a Dakar privateer. He failed to bag a place in top 10 and finished thirteenth with a time of 1:07:48 seconds – a six-minute gap to Al-Attiyah.
Since the first stage was a small one, the time differences between the participants are insignificant. The competition will only get interesting hereafter as the stages progress. At the end of day one, Attiyah flying past the road-opener Carlos Sianz gave us a glimpse of the actions that lay ahead. Stay tuned to CarWale for a complete coverage of the Dakar 2019.