Nasser Al-Attiyah finished first in Sunday’s opening stage of the 2015 Dakar Rally, only to be penalized two minutes for speeding in a restricted section of the course.
In Monday’s Stage 2 from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan, Argentina – the longest stage of the entire event – the Mini driver from Qatar issued an emphatic response.
Al-Attiyah, seeking a second Dakar overall win, took the 518km stage by a margin of eight-and-a-half minutes over Toyota’s South African ace, Giniel de Villiers. And just like that, the 2011 champ has roared back to the overall lead in the marquee car category.
“We won the stage,” Al-Attiyah said. “This was a big thing today. This is the key of this Dakar. Now we can go calmly until the rest day. For the marathon [stage] day, we can go really easily, but we will try every day to be like this. It was a plan today because we studied the stage very well: Me and [co-driver] Matthieu Baumel went to sleep yesterday at 1:30. We made a very good job of it.
“OK, I know it’s hard. I was nearly sleeping in the car! But this is a good point and we need to work every day and take it day by day. I don’t know about victory, but today we tried to make a good job of it. There’s still a long way, still a long way.”
De Villiers’ Toyota teammate, Bernhard Ten Brinke, was third on Monday at just over 10 minutes behind Al-Attiyah.
Following Al-Attiyah’s penalty on Sunday, Orlando Terranova of Argentina assumed the Dakar lead and appeared to be on his way to victory on Monday. But in the final kilometers, “Orly” crashed and lost more than 20 minutes in the process. As a result, he’s now fallen from the lead to 10th in the overall standings.
“It was ten kilometers before the end,” Terranova said of his wild ride. “We came at it quite gently because we had some problem with the cooling temperature. But then in one moment, in a ditch, the car rolled four times. But we’re ok, no problems.
“We lost a lot of time. We had to put the car back on its wheels and change two tires. The fuel pump was broken, so we lost a lot of minutes, too much. But we’re still in the race.”
Nani Roma, the reigning Dakar champion who saw his hopes of another title end prematurely on Sunday, was unable to bounce back in Stage 2. He finished 22nd in the stage at more than one hour off the pace.
Also suffering for a second consecutive day were the Peugeot boys – in particular, its 11-time Dakar winner, Stephane Peterhansel, who finished 27th on Monday. The group was led again by Carlos Sainz in eighth.
NBCSN begins its daily coverage of the Dakar today at 4:30 p.m. ET. For a full TV schedule of the event, CLICK HERE.
2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Cars
(After Stage 2 – Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Mini), 6 hours, 19 minutes, 40 seconds
2. Giniel de Villiers (Toyota), + 7:42
3. Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota), + 9:42
4. Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini), + 10:28
5. Vladimir Vasilyev (Mini), + 17:23
6. Erik Van Loon (Mini), + 20:04
7. Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), + 20:32
8. Yazeed Alrajhi (Toyota), + 21:34
9. Carlos Sousa (Mitsubishi), + 22:04
10. Orlando Terranova (Mini), + 22:23