The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally got underway Sunday with a total of 351 vehicles ready to contest a new route that will be held entirely within Saudi Arabia.
In the cars class, defending race champion Nasser Al-Attiyah led the majority of the first stage, but suffered three tire punctures, leading to an upset victory by Mini driver Vaidotas Zala. Fellow Mini driver Stephane Peterhansel finished second, 2 minutes and 14 seconds behind.
Carlos Sainz made it a Mini 1-2-3 by finishing 2 minutes, 50 seconds behind Zala and Peterhansel, while Al-Attiyah had to settle for a fourth-place finish, 5 minutes, 33 seconds behind.
Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso finished 11th overall in his Dakar debut, 15 minutes and 27 seconds off the pace.
In bikes, defending champion Toby Price scored the stage win after taking first place from Ricky Brabec roughly halfway through the stage.
Brabec maintained the lead for approximately the first 100 kilometers before Price gained the lead. Price eventually won with a 2 minute, 5 second lead.
Price’s teammate Matthias Walkner finished the stage in the third position, 2 minutes and 40 seconds behind.
In side by sides, Aron Domzala won, beating American Casey Currie by 1 minute and 51 seconds. Jose Antonio Hinojo Lopez finished third, 5 minutes and 49 seconds back.
In quads, Ignacio Casale won the first stage by a healthy margin of 5 minutes, 36 seconds, while Rafal Sonik finished second. Tomas Kubiena finished third, 6 minutes and 55 seconds behind.
In trucks, Anton Shibalov passed Kamaz teammate Andrey Karginov to take the opening stage victory by 1 minute, 33 seconds.
Karginov had led through every waypoint before experiencing a setback within the final 100 kilometers, which caused him to finish seventh overall.
Siarhei Viazovich finished second, while Janus Van Kasteren finished third, 3 minutes and 9 seconds behind.
Highlights of Stage One will air on NBCSN on Monday, January 6 at 5:00 p.m. ET, with highlights of Stage Two airing immediately after at 5:30 p.m. ET.