The 2015 edition of the Dakar Rally started with a 170 km timed stage from Buenos Aires to Villa Carlo Paz in Argentina yesterday. Defending champion Joan “Nani” Roma is essentially already out of contention, having lost more than seven hours after being forced to stop after his X-Raid Mini came off second best to a bad bump.
The Spaniard’s teammate, 2011 champion and former Olympian Nasser Al-Attiyah got his campaign off to a promising start by winning the first stage of 2015, 22 seconds ahead of Argentinian teammate Orlando Terranova. American Robby Gordon rounded up the podium a further 20 seconds in arrears with his Gordini Buggy.
“The stage was a bit too fast, but we got off to a good start. We needed to know where everyone stands. We might be able to be more aggressive tomorrow. There were a few tricky spots where we didn’t take any risks,” Al-Attiyah admitted.
The South African Dakar effort in the car category also got off to a good start with 2009 champion Giniel De Villiers in fourth overall, while teammate Leeroy Poulter finished in 14th after starting from 27th – 50 seconds and 4 minutes 18 seconds behind Al-Attiyah respectively.
“We had a fairly good, clean run today. The Hilux ran absolutely perfectly, and we didn’t take any risks so early on,” de Villiers said.
The new Peugeot 2008 DKRs got off to a fairly decent start, with former champion and WRC legend Carlos Sainz in eighth, 11-time champion Stephane Peterhansel in 10th and Cyril Despres in 33rd – 10 minutes 17 seconds in arrears.
Today’s stage, from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan is the longest special of the 2015 Dakar and the first real test of the event for the competitors. The route comprises of 518 km on a hard surfaces, followed by dusty tracks and a sandy final.
Image source: Motorsport.com