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Dakar Day 1: Al-Attiyah on fire!

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Monday, January 2, 2017

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Nasser Al-Attiyah's Toyota
Nasser Al-Attiyah's Toyota

Nasser Al-Attiyah did not wait long to demonstrate that he made the right choice on swapping Mini for the Toyota which he already is mastering. The Qatari struck from the start to win his 26th stage on the Dakar, but ended up doing overtime on the link stage, along which he had to be towed following a fire on his pick-up. Xavier de Soultrait was the quickest biker but could lose the benefit of this first stage victory to Juan Pedrero due to a penalty he is likely to receive for speeding.

Focus

For the first time in its history, the Dakar has visited Paraguay and to launch its 2017 edition from the capital Asuncion for a sole and single stage with a 39-km special. As such, Paraguay has become the 29th country to welcome the Dakar, boasting a superb setting with lush jungle-like vegetation favored by a tropical climate. This makes for a technically tricky route and trial-like tracks which in particular enabled Xavier Pons, 2nd in the car category, to express his skill in handling his vehicle.

The essentials

What a performance from Xavier de Soultrait on bikes! After withdrawing in 2016, he quite simply grabbed his first special stage victory ahead of two other outsiders, Juan Pedrero (Sherco) and Ricky Brabec (Honda). However, the Frenchman exceeded the speed limit on the link stage and is likely to receive a penalty which will put Pedrero at the top of the general standings. Michael Metge completed the day's Top 4, while Joan Barreda grabbed the 7th best time despite a problem in a ford. In the quad race, Marcelo Medeiros was victorious with a lead of more than one minute, while local favorite Nelson Sanabria finished the stage in third place in front of his countrymen and women. In the car category, Nasser Al-Attiyah finished his first stage behind the wheel of a Toyota with a victory. He literally played with fire, however, as flames started to lick around his Hilux a short way from the finishing line. The leading Peugeot, driven by Carlos Sainz, took fourth place with Sebastien Loeb in sixth. In the truck race, Martin Kolomy let the power of his brand new Tatra Phoenix do the talking, to win the first stage just in front of Dutchman Ton Van Genugten.

Performance of the day

Although feverish over the last few days, at the start of his second Dakar Xavier Pons surprised everyone by getting involved in the battle for victory with Nasser Al-Attiyah. After an encouraging debut in 2016, prior to the race this regular on the traditional rally circuit had pinpointed this first stage and took advantage of a profile that suited him perfectly. The Spaniard even said he was looking to shine again tomorrow before tempering his remarks later on.

A crushing blow

The Dakar 2017 soon became a nightmare for Sebastien Souday, participating in the quad category. After a fall on the special, the Frenchman arrived at the finishing line with a fractured wrist and his injury could oblige him to withdraw, even if he chose to carry on along the link stage after receiving medical assistance. After having dropped out in 2015 and 2016, this is another crushing blow for the Yamaha rider, who nonetheless has enjoyed an excellent season prior to the Dakar, even featuring among the pretenders for the final podium.

Stats of the day: 5

Nasser Al Attiyah offered Toyota its 5th stage victory in the history of the Dakar and the third since the arrival of the Hiluxes after the special won in 2013 by Giniel de Villiers and another in 2015 by Yazeed Al Rajhi.

Quote of the day

Xavier de Soultrait: “Winning a stage in the Dakar is incredible and it's already a step upwards. However, it's not my ultimate goal: I want to win the Dakar. Why not this year? I'm putting the pieces of the puzzle in place little by little and things are starting to take shape!”

Standings After Day 1

Car Top-10

Pos.No.NameMarkTimeBehindPenalty
1301AL-ATTIYAH (QAT), BAUMEL (FRA)TOYOTA00:25:41--
2311PONS (ESP), GARCIA (ARG)FORD00:26:0500:00:24-
3305ROMA (ESP), HARO BRAVO (ESP)TOYOTA00:26:1000:00:29-
4304SAINZ (ESP), CRUZ (ESP)PEUGEOT00:26:1400:00:33-
5302DE VILLIERS (ZAF), VON ZITZEWITZ (DEU)TOYOTA00:26:2200:00:41-
6309LOEB (FRA), ELENA (MCO)PEUGEOT00:26:3600:00:55-
7306AL RAJHI (SAU), GOTTSCHALK (DEU)MINI00:26:4700:01:06-
8307DESPRES (FRA), CASTERA (FRA)PEUGEOT00:26:5500:01:14-
9303HIRVONEN (FIN), PERIN (FRA)MINI00:27:0100:01:20-
10310VAN LOON (NLD), ROSEGAAR (NLD)TOYOTA00:27:0300:01:22-

Bike Top-10

Pos.No.NameMarkTimeBehindPenalty
112PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP)SHERCO TVS00:28:22--
29BRABEC (USA)HONDA00:28:3400:00:12-
317GONCALVES (PRT)HONDA00:28:4800:00:26-
414SUNDERLAND (GBR)KTM00:28:4900:00:27-
511BARREDA BORT (ESP)HONDA00:28:5200:00:30-
616WALKNER (AUT)KTM00:29:0200:00:40-
715METGE (FRA)HONDA00:29:0800:00:4600:00:30
88FARRES GUELL (ESP)KTM00:29:0800:00:46-
925CERVANTES MONTERO (ESP)KTM00:29:1600:00:54-
1023DE SOULTRAIT (FRA)YAMAHA00:29:2000:00:5800:01:00

Quad Top-10

Pos.No.NameMarkTimeBehindPenalty
1271MEDEIROS (BRA)YAMAHA00:32:53--
2281GONZALEZ (ARG)YAMAHA00:33:5500:01:02-
3257SANABRIA GALEANO (PRY)YAMAHA00:34:3200:01:39-
4263COPETTI (ARG)YAMAHA00:34:3700:01:44-
5280DUTRIE (FRA)YAMAHA00:34:4700:01:54-
6254KARYAKIN (RUS)YAMAHA00:35:1200:02:19-
7267KOOLEN (NLD)BARREN RACER00:35:1600:02:23-
8251CASALE (CHL)YAMAHA00:35:2600:02:33-
9256NOSIGLIA (BOL)HONDA00:35:2700:02:34-
10277KUBIENA (CZE)IBOS00:35:3400:02:41-

Truck Top-10

Pos.No.NameMarkTimeBehindPenalty
1508KOLOMY (CZE), KILIAN (CZE), KILIAN (CZE)TATRA00:30:00--
2507VAN GENUGTEN (NLD), VAN LIMPT (NLD), DER KINDEREN (NLD)IVECO00:30:1300:00:13-
3506VAN DEN BRINK (NLD), KOZLOVSKY (CZE), BLANKESTIJN (NLD)RENAULT TRUCKS00:30:2500:00:25-
4503LOPRAIS (CZE), STROSS (CZE), TOMANEK (CZE)TATRA00:30:3100:00:31-
5500DE ROOY (NLD), TORRALLARDONA (ESP), RODEWALD (POL)IVECO00:30:4200:00:42-
6505NIKOLAEV (RUS), YAKOVLEV (RUS), RYBAKOV (RUS)KAMAZ00:30:5000:00:50-
7509VERSLUIS (NLD), KLEIN (DEU), PRONK (NLD)MAN00:31:0200:01:02-
8512ARDAVICHUS (KAZ), BRUYNKENS (BEL), HUISMAN (NLD)MAN00:31:2100:01:21-
9502VILLAGRA (ARG), YACOPINI (ARG), TORLASCHI (ARG)IVECO00:31:2600:01:26-
10513SOTNIKOV (RUS), AKHMADEEV (RUS), LEONOV (RUS)KAMAZ00:31:3100:01:31-

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