Dakar Rally 2022, Day 1: Al-Attiyah takes lead as Sainz, Peterhansel face early trouble


Three-time Dakar Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah remained atop the leaderboard after Day 1 of the 2022 event.

After winning the prologue of the car class Saturday, Al-Attiyah triumphed Sunday in the first stage, which he completed in just over three and a half hours in his Gazoo Racing Toyota. The special featured a 334-kilometer loop around the bivouac in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia.

“I’m happy with the job that (co-driver and navigator) Mathieu (Baumel) and myself did today,” Al-Attiyah said. “I really pushed from beginning to finish. Mathieu’s navigation was great. To finish Day 1 with a good lead is an amazing start, but there’s still so far to go.”

DAKAR RALLY ON NBC: How to watch nightly coverage at the Olympic Channel

The Qatar native opened a 12-minute lead over rally legend Sebastien Loeb as other big-name contenders for Audi struggled in the opener to the prestigious endurance race.

“It was a long and difficult stage,” Loeb said. “The navigation was really tricky today. The terrain was rough in places and we had two punctures to deal with. It was a hard stage to get things started.”

Carlos Sainz, who won the event in 2020, ’18 and ’10, was in 28th and more than two hours off Al-Attiyah’s lead in his electric hybrid Audi, which the Spaniard had been concerned about being down on power.

A heavily damaged rear suspension required lengthy repairs to the Audi RS Q e-tron of 13-time overall winner Stephane Peterhansel, dealing a serious blow to the hopes of “Mr. Dakar” defending his 2021 title.

It was a solid start for Seth Quintero as the American won the first stage of the light prototype division while some big names ran into trouble. At 19, Quintero is trying to become the youngest winner in Dakar history.

“Stage 1 went really well,” Quintero said. “My mindset coming into this race was to go slow in the slow and go fast in the fast. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”

In the bikes category, Daniel Sanders opened a lead of 3 minutes after winning the first stage.

Mason Klein was the highest-finishing U.S. rider in fifth. Other notable Americans: Skyler Howes (10th); Andrew Short (19th) and 2020 overall bikes winner Ricky Brabec (35th).

Brabec was one of several contenders who massively struggled with navigation problems on a course with a tricky waypoint.

“I feel like my rally is over,” Brabec said after falling more than an hour behind the lead. “I said the same thing last year on the first day, but I lost a lot more time today. I opened the stage really well today until I let my teammate past me for three minutes. I put a little too much trust in my teammate to maybe help me a little bit, so here we are. Really far back. I think we’re going to just finish.

“That being said, I hope my teammate Pablo has a good rally and we are here for him.”

Here are the top three in each category after Day 1:


1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 3:30:53; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 3:43:37; 3. Martin Prokop (CZE), Benzina Orlen Team, 3:53:32.


1. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GasGas Factory Racing, 4:38:40; 2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Monster Energy Honda, 4:41:47; 3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 4:49:46. Other U.S. notables: 5. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 4:53:14; 10. Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing, 5:03:52; 35. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 5:38:56.


1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 4:06:22; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 4:06:53; 3. Ales Loprais (CZE), Instaforex Loprais Praga, 4:16:20.

Light prototype

1. Seth Quintero (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 4:21:35; 2. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS — South Racing, 4:23:33; 3. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS — South Racing, 4:28:27.


1. Aron Domzala (POL), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 4:37:26; 2. Austin Jones (USA), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 4:39:24; 3. Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira (BRA), South Racing Can-Am, 4:41:28.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.