Editor’s note: Don’t miss NBCSN’s first report from Dakar on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. ET.
The 40th annual Dakar Rally – and its 10th consecutive year in South America – opened Saturday with lots of action in Stage 1.
Most importantly, rain – which was a constant hindrance in last year’s Rally, including washing out one full stage and drastically shortening another – was nowhere in sight.
The 31-kilometer (19.26 miles) inaugural sprint kicked off the 14-stage, two-week event in the morning starting in Lima, Peru and ending in nearby Pisco, Peru.
For the second straight year, Robby Gordon – a perennial Rally fan favorite – is not entered.
In fact, there are only six U.S. competitors in the 523 “adventurer’s” field: One entrant in Cars (Bryce Menzies) and five in Motorcycles (Ricky Brabec, Andrew Short, Mark Samuels, Bill Conger, and Shane Esposito).
Here’s results and highlights from Saturday’s Stage 1:
In the marquee Cars class, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah – a two-time Rally winner – took his Toyota to the No. 1 spot in a time of 21 minutes, 51 seconds.
Second through fifth were:
- Holland’s Bernhard ten Brinke, Toyota, 22:16
- Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs, Borgward, 22:25
- U.S.’s Bryce Menzies (co-driver Peter Mortensen), Mini, 22:29
- Spain’s Nani Roma, Mini, 22:44
Defending champion Sam Sunderland of Britain (although he now lives in Dubai) had an outstanding first Stage, clocking in at 20:55 to grab the early lead in the class.
Second through fifth were:
- France’s Adrien van Beveren, Yamaha, 21:28
- Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, 21:51
- Spain’s Joan Barreda Bort, Honda, 21:52
- France’s Xavier De Soultrait, Yamaha, 22:02
Also, here’s the position and times of the five U.S. riders in the class:
- 11th: Ricky Brabec, Honda, 23:42
- 27th: Andrew Short, Husqvarna, 25:46
- 35th: Mark Samuels, Honda, 27:01
- 93rd: Bill Conger, Husqvarna, 43:32
- 125th: Shane Esposito, KTM, 2.39:54
- 1. Chile’s Ignacio Casale, Yamaha, 27:32
- 2. Russia’s Sergei Kariakin, Yamaha, 28:32
- 3. Argentina’s Pablo Copetti, Yamaha, 30:31
- 4. Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, Yamaha, 30:40
- 5. Poland’s Rafal Sonik, Yamaha, 31:33
- 1. Peru’s Anibal Aliaga, Polaris, 31:27
- 2. Spain’s Jose Pena Campo, Polaris, 34:28
- 3. France’s Claudio Fournier, Polaris, 34:50
- 4. Portugal’s Pedro De Mello Breyner, Yamaha, 35:10
- 5. Italy’s Camelia Liparoti, Yamaha, 35:13]
- 1. Czech Republic’s Ales Loprais, Tatra, 25:15
- 2. Netherland’s Martin Van den Brink, Renault, 25:37
- 3. Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev, Kamaz, 25:44
- 4. Netherland’s Ton van Genugten, Iveco, 26:26
- 5. Russia’s Anton Shibalov, Kamaz, 26:33
- The first crash of the day involved Lebanese drivers Jad Comair and Antoine Iskandar’s BMW, which rolled over in the sand dunes area of the course. Both drivers were uninjured.
- The first contestant eliminated was Portuguese motorcycle rider Joaquim Rodrigues, who was participating in his first Dakar Rally. Rodrigues managed to get just a few hundred meters from the starting line before he was involved in a spectacular crash that sent him to a local hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.
- Saturday’s opening stage was easy in comparison to what’s coming up. Sunday’s Stage 2 will be a circuitous 279 kilometer (173.3 miles) route that begins and ends in Pisco, Peru.