Dakar Prologue Highlights: Ricky Brabec, Nasser Al-Attiyah set the mark

2021 Dakar Prologue Brabec
Marcelo Maragni, Red Bull

The starting lineup has been determined for the 2021 Dakar Rally after the prologue stage as Ricky Brabec and Nasser Al-Attiyah set the mark.

Here are some of Saturday’s highlights:

In the cars class, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Brian Baragwanath posted identical times of 5:48. Al-Attiyah was credited with the stage win – the 36th of his career. He will open the 172-mile special stage. “Things get serious tomorrow with a long opening stage,” the Qatari driver said afterward.

Baragwanath is in his first rally after watching from the sidelines for the past five years.

They narrowly bettered the time of the Saudi national Yazeed Al Rajhi, who took a measured approach to the day. “Everything went well,” Al Rajhi said. “We didn’t throw caution to the wind because we needed to avoid getting into trouble. It’s just a prologue, but we ended up quite high.”

With such small margins in the prologue stage, Stephane Peterhansel lost 19 seconds to Al-Attiyah, but was not in the least discouraged. “Just being able to start the race is a huge reason to be pleased,” he said. “It feels great to get going after several days twiddling our thumbs. This was just a short warm-up, but it’s good to get the show on the road.”

Overall: Al-Attiyah and Baragwanath holds an advantage of 00:08 seconds over Al Rajhi.

In bikes, Ricky Brabec got his title defense off to a strong start by winning the prologue stage with a time of 6:01.

Daniel Sanders made the most of his first foray in the Dakar with a solid podium finish. He was 7 seconds behind Brabec in third and 7 seconds behind second-place Joan Barreda Bort.

Overall: Ricky Brabec holds an advantage of 00:06 over Joad Barreda Bort.

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In lightweight prototypes, Kris Meeke finished only two seconds ahead of Californian Seth Quintero.

Age won over youth in the prologue stage. Britain’s Meeke, 41, has more than two decades of experience over Quintero, 18.

American Mitchell Guthrie, Quintero’s Red Bull teammate, was 10 seconds behind the leader in third.

Overall: Kris Meeke holds an advantage of 00:02 over Seth Quintero.


In SSV, American Austin Jones beat Reinaldo Varela by only 4 seconds.

Saleh Alsaif was one second behind Varela in third.

Overall: Austin Jones holds an advantage of 00:04 over Reinaldo Varela.

In quads, Alexandre Giroud took the early lead by only one second over Manuel Andujar.

In the tightly contested division, Kamil Wisniewski was 4 seconds behind the leader.

Overall: Alexandre Giroud holds an advantage of 00:01 over Manuel Andujar.

In trucks, Siarhei Viazovich beat Aliaksei Vishneuski by one second.

Martin Macik was right on their back bumper with a deficit of three seconds.

Overall: Siarhei Viazovich holds an advantage of 00:01 over Aliaksei Vishneuski.


Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.