Racing got underway at the 2021 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia as some of the biggest names in rally-raid took part in today’s 11km prologue stage. Holding an early lead in the car race is Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, while Ricky Brabec took first place in the bike category.
In the car category it was three-time Dakar winner Al-Attiyah who gained the advantage in the prologue, claiming his 36th stage win. He will now open tomorrow’s 277km timed special stage. The Qatari driver, who won the Dakar Rally in 2011, 2015 and 2019, said: “Things get serious tomorrow with a long opening stage.”
In the bike contest, defending champion Brabec won the prologue, six seconds ahead of Joan Barreda Bort in second. But former winners Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland all finished within a minute of the leader. Dakar debutant, Australian Daniel Sanders enjoyed an impressive prologue with the day’s third fastest time.
“The bike was flying and I really had a good day. It was good to get rid of some nerves ahead of our first big day tomorrow.” ~ Daniel Sanders
Sanders was not the only Dakar rookie earning a place on the podium, as Seth Quintero scored second place in the Lightweight Vehicles category. The 18-year-old was denied the chance to race the Dakar last year on account of his age and is clearly in the mood to make up for lost time.
“Prologue done ✔️ I’m in a good spot, situated roughly where I wanted to be so we are well and truely underway for #Dakar2021 and I’m excited for the days ahead… We’ll wait and see what the Rally brings us but ready for the race.” Toby Price posted on Facebook
Serial truck race winners Team Kamaz Master are well set up after the prologue with all four of their crews within a minute of race leader Siarhei Viazovich. The closest Kamaz trucker to the top of the leaderboard is Anton Shibalov who stands just seven seconds off the pace.
In the quad category, it was a tight finish with Frenchman Alexandre Giroud taking top spot on the podium – finishing just one second ahead of Argentina’s Manuel Andujar.
There was also success for the duo of Austin Jones and Gustavo Gugelmin in the SSV category, with the pair finishing four seconds ahead of their nearest rivals.
STANDINGS – DAKAR 2021
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota Gazoo Racing 0h05m48s
2. Brian Baragwanath (ZAF)/Taye Perry (ZAF) Century Racing 0h05m48s
3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Overdrive Toyota +0h00m08s
1. Ricky Brabec (USA) Honda 00h06m01s
2. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP) Honda +00h00m06s
3. Daniel Sanders (AUS) KTM +00h00m13s
1. Siarhei Viazovich (BLR) Mazda 00h06m38s
2. Aliaksei Vishneuski (BLR) Mazda +00h00m01s
3. Martin Macik (CZE) Iveco 00h00m03s
1. Austin Jones (USA)/Gustavo Gugelmin (BRA) Can-Am 00h06m43s
2. Reinaldo Varela (BRA)/Maykel Justo (BRA) Can-Am +00h00m04s
3. Saleh Alsaif (SAU)/Oriol Vidal Montijano (ESP) Black Horse +00h00m05s
1. Alexandre Giroud (FRA) Yamaha 00h07m35s
2. Manuel Andujar (ARG) Yamaha +00h00m01s
3. Kamil Wisniewski (POL) Yamaha +00h00m04s