Toyota Gazoo Racing SA enjoyed a strong start to Dakar 2019, with Nasser Al-Attiyah claiming a win on the opening 84 km stage of the race in Peru.

Former winner Al-Attiyah, with navigator Mathieu Baumel alongside him in their Hilux, took the stage almost two minutes ahead of 2018’s winner, Carlos Sainz in a Mini.

“Nasser and Mathieu did exactly what was required of them,” said Glyn Hall, team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing SA. “There’s always the temptation to throw caution to the wind, but Nasser is an old hand and knows what it takes to win not only stages, but the race overall.”

Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz, meanwhile, completed the stage in sixth place.

“We decided to go at a good pace, rather than push too hard on the opening stage,” said De Villiers. “There’s very little time to be made on such a relatively short stage, but even a small mistake can put you on the back foot for the remainder of the race.”

Toyota's Bernhard ten Brinke (alongside navigator Xavier Panseri) placed eighth, just over three minutes behind Al-Attiyah.

“We are really pleased with our performance today,” said Hall. “All three crews did exactly what we had planned, and I think the team is full of positive energy at this point. We have every reason to be upbeat, and we are looking forward to tomorrow’s long stage.”

Jakub Przygonski (Mini) was third on the day, ahead of Vladimir Vasilyev (Toyota) and Yazeed Al Rajhi (Mini). Stephane Peterhansel in a Mini was seventh, Harry Hunt ninth in a Peugeot and Cyril Despres tenth in a Mini.

Meanwhile, South African driver Shameer Variawa and navigator Zaheer Bodhanya placed 45th in a Nissan Navara.

Dakar 2019 comprises 10 stages, with a rest day at the midpoint. The second stage will see the crews start in the coastal town of Pisco, before heading southwards to San Juan de Marcona. The race will finish on January 17 in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

Stage 1 results:

  1. Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
  2. Sainz (Mini): +01:59
  3. Przygonski (Mini): +02:00
  4. Vasilyev (Toyota): +02:18
  5. Al Rajhi (Mini): +02:28
  6. De Villiers (Toyota): +02:40
  7. Peterhansel (Mini): +02:57
  8. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +03:19
  9. Hunt (Peugeot): +03:25
  10. Despres (Mini): +04:25