Dakar 2017: Brabec second in bikes; Al-Attiyah leads overall on day 1

Ricky Brabec (pictured in 2016). Photo: Getty Images
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American rider Ricky Brabec has come third in the opening stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally in the bike category, and was later promoted to second following a penalty for the stage winner. Meanwhile overall and in cars, two-time overall winner Nasser Al-Attiyah holds the top spot.

Coverage of today’s opening stage will air on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Brabec, the 25-year-old who rides the No. 9 CRF 450 Rally Honda for the Monster Energy Honda Team, is regarded as the top American with a chance to star in this year’s Dakar, especially following the lingering injuries that have sidelined Red Bull’s Bryce Menzies, who was scheduled to compete in the car class.

French rider Xavier de Soultrait, who is in the No. 23 WR 450 F Yamaha for Viltais Racing Team HFP, took the opening stage win over Spaniard Juan Pedrero Garcia (No. 12 RTR 450 Sherco TVS, Sherco TVS Rally Factory) by two seconds. Brabec was third, 14 seconds back.

However, following the conclusion of the stage, Soultrait was docked nine positions for a speeding violation. That promotes Pedrero to the stage win and Brabec up to second.

Toby Price, who won the bike category at Dakar last year, sits one minute and 25 seconds in arrears.

Overall, Al-Attiyah has taken the lead with a 24-second stage win over Xavier Pons, and 29-seconds over Nani Roma. The Qatari driver won overall in 2011 and 2015, and this year shares the No. 301 Hilux Toyota for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA with co-driver Matthieu Baumel. Al-Attiyah survived a smoke scare to make it to the stage finish.

Roma is in the No. 305 Toyota, while Pons is in the No. 311 Ranger Ford for DMAS South Racing.

Of note, 2016 Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel sits a minute, 34 seconds in arrears, with Carlos Sainz 33 seconds back, Sebastien Loeb 55 seconds back, Mikko Hirvonen one minute and 20 seconds back, and 24 Hours of Le Mans/FIA World Endurance Champion Romain Dumas one minute and 44 seconds back.

The other stage one class winners were Martin Kolomy (Trucks, No. 508 Phoenix Tatra, Tatra Buggyra Racing), Tim Coronel (UTV, No. 347 Swift GL Suzuki, Maxxis Dakar Team Powered by Super B) and Marcelo Medeiros (Quads, No. 271 YFM700R Yamaha, Taguatur Racing Team).

Here was the stage map.