Al-Attiyah, Sunderland stake early leads in Stage 1 of Dakar Rally

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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).

MORE: Dakar Rally kicks off today, marks 40th year overall and 10th year in South America.

MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, all competitors

Here’s results and highlights from Saturday’s Stage 1:

CARS

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

MOTORCYCLES

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

QUADS

  • 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

SxS UTV

  • 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]

TRUCK

  • 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

NOTES:

  • 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.