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.
Winner of the prologue, @krismeeke, will be the first lightweight pilot to start stage 1 tomorrow. #Dakar2021 pic.twitter.com/iHjt4OXO0R
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 2, 2021
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.