Gabor Saghmeister

Dakar Stage 1 Highlights: Ricky Brabec, Casey Currie lead Americans

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The 41st running of the Dakar Rally got underway Monday with a total of 334 vehicles ready to contest a route that will be held entirely in Peru.

In the cars class, Nasser Al-Attiyah drew the first victory in his Toyota. Carlos Sainz was only 1 minute 59 seconds behind in a Mini with Jakub Przygonski rounding out the podium one second behind Sainz. … Making his 12th Dakar start and first after a two-year hiatus, Robby Gordon finished 21st in the stage (8:28 behind the leader) in his Textron. … Sebastian Loeb also got off to a slow start in Stage 1. Sand has never been his favorite part of any rally and he finished more than six minutes behind Al-Attiyah in 13th.

In motorcycles, Joan Barreda scored the stage win in a Honda. Pablo Qunitanilla in a Husqvarna ended the stage 1:34 behind in second. USA’s Ricky Brabec had the best showing among the Americans with his third-place finish 2:52 behind. Andrew Short was the next highest finishing American in 13th. … Gabor Saghmeister became the first rider to withdraw from the 2019 Dakar.

In side by sides, the 2018 winner, 59-year old Reinaldo Varela won the stage over Francisco Lopez (1:27 behind) and Gerald Farres (2:32 behind). American Casey Currie was 4:55 behind in sixth in a stage where he took extra time to keep from making any mistakes.

“Day 1 of Dakar finally in the books,” Currie said. “We had a game plan; we wanted a good top-10 finish. We just wanted to drive through the stage without getting lost, without getting a puncture and not break anything. And we did it. In the river bed, there was a lot of rocks. I’m not kidding you I could have walked faster. I just wanted to take my time and get through Stage 1.”

In quads, Nicolas Cavigliasso finished 1:27 ahead of Jeremias Gonzalez and 2:32 ahead of Tomas Kubiena.

In trucks, Eduard Nikolaev, Ton Van Genugten, and Federico Villagra took the top three spots. But it was Gerard de Rooy who created the most drama of the day. Running second at the halfway mark of the start, he set a wheel on fire and finished the stage fourth.

For more watch the video above and check out the daily highlight show on NBCSN. Click here for the complete schedule.