The 2016 Dakar finally got into full flight on Monday (Jan 4) after a crash involving spectators during the Prologue on Saturday and the cancellation because of rain of Stage 1 (Buenos Aires to Villa Carlos Paz).
Monday’s race – described as “a quick stage without significant navigation difficulties” was from Villa Carlos Paz to Termas de Rio Hondo and the cars class was won by nine-times World Rally championship driver Sébastien Loeb despite his losing two minutes in mud. The stage win puts him in the lead of the car category.
A report on the Dakar media section suggested Frenchman Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot) was probably not expecting to win his first stage on “the King of Rally-Raids” yet the route seemed to be tailor-made for him and his performance was certainly dominant through the day.
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He beat five-times Dakar winner and team mate Stéphane Peterhansel by 2min23 to the day’s finish at Termas de Rio Hondo to take control of the general standings.
It’s likely, however, that the more Dakar-experienced Peterhansel will eventually be racing in clear air.
Toyota driver Vladimir (Toyota Hilux) was 15sec further back and followed home in turn by South African Giniel de Villiers. Behind them were Loeb’s former World Rally rival Mikko Hirvonen and Cyril Despres. Nasser al-Attiyah lost precious time with a puncture and Carlos Sainz list 11 minutes on the stage with an engine problem on his Peugeot.
Bad luck stories of the day, however, belonged to fromer biker now X-raid driver Nani
Roma who lost more than 45 minutes and team mate Orlando Terranova (more than 30 minutes).
Australian Toby Price (KTM) had a place on the podium in his first Dakar race and is surely aiming for another success in 2016 – perhaps even the top spot after the race reaches its end in Rosario.
He won the first completed leg of the race on Monday – though he didn’t have an easy time of it. Portuguese Husqvarna rider Ruben Faria was in fact in front for most of the section and even caught up with general standings leader Joan Barreda, with price overall second and Faria third.
Slovak Stefan Svitko was third on the leg after riding hard to recover from a slow start.
Hollander Hans Stacey, this year driving a MAN, won the first proper stage of the trucks division of the 2016 Dakar – his 10th entry – as he did in 2015. He won in 2007.
Pieter Versluis was 48sec behind and his cousin Gerard de Rooy completing the stage 1min51 later. Argentinian Federico Villagra led the stage for a long time but eventually finished fifth behind Martin Kolomy. The first Kamaz truck, driven by 2015 trucks winner Airat Mardeev, was only eighth.
South African Brian Baragwanath was second in the quads race, finishing four minutes behind Ignacio Casale who’s riding hard with the intention of winning his second Dakar.
Chilean Casale dominated the stage and has a comfortable lead overall in the class.
Alejandro Patronelli was third at Termas de Rio Hondo but title holder Rafal Sonik was only sixth place, more than six minutes behind the leader.
Programme for the 2016 Dakar
02/01: Start podium in Buenos Aires / Prologue / Liaison to Bivouac “0” close to Rosario
03/01: Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz (cancelled)
04/01: Villa Carlos Paz – Termas de Río Hondo
05/01: Termas de Río Hondo – Jujuy
06/01: Jujuy – Jujuy
07/01: Jujuy – Uyuni
08/01: Uyuni – Uyuni
09/01: Uyuni – Salta
10/01: Rest day in Salta
11/01: Salta – Belén
12/01: Belén – Belén
13/01: Belén – La Rioja
14/01: La Rioja – San Juan
15/01: San Juan – Villa Carlos Paz
16/01: Villa Carlos Paz – Rosario