2018 Dakar Rally runner-up Nasser Al-Attiyah reversed his fortunes, at least for today, over defending event winner Carlos Sainz as the 2019 edition of the event kicked off in Lima, Peru today. Al-Attiyah won the 31st stage of his Dakar career on Monday, making it to the finish line in his Toyota in 1:01:41, just under two minutes ahead of Sainz’s Mini.
25 cars completed the 84-kilometer trek from Lima to Pisco within 10 minutes of Al-Attiyah’s event-winning time, including the factory-backed Mini trio Sainz (1:03:40), Stephane Peterhansel (seventh place, 1:04:38), Cyril Despres (10th place, 1:06:06). All three drivers moved on from Peugeot after its factory withdrawal from the event this year; still, Sebastien Loeb is competing in the 3008DKR for PH Sport, and posted the 13th-best time at 1:07:48.
Robby Gordon’s return to the Dakar began modestly on Monday, as his brand new UTV Open vehicle finished 21st in the Cars class, with a time of 1:10:09. Gordon’s teammates and fellow Stadium Super Trucks drivers Blade Hildebrand (1:16:11) and Cole Potts (1:22:03) finished 34th and 43rd, respectively, each well within the top half of the deep car class.
On the bikes, it was Joan Barreda who kicked off the event with a victory, making it to the finish in just 57 minutes and 36 seconds. After dropping out of last year’s event due to injury, Barreda showcased the form that enabled him to win three stages last year and leads Pablo Quintanilla by 1:34 after day one. The factory KTM squad, which has dominated the event in recent years, finished fifth, sixth, and seventh on day one, with Sam Sunderland crossing the line ahead of teammates Toby Price and defending champion Matthias Walkner.
Defending Side-by-Side class winner Reinaldo Varela kicked off his championship defense with a stage win on Monday, completing the stage in 1:11:13. That was good enough for a 1:27 advantage over second place Chaleco Lopez, and a further 1:05 ahead of Gerard Farres in third. Dakar rookie Casey Currie posted a strong debut stage, ranking sixth and just under five minutes out of the lead.
Nicolas Cavigliasso leads the Quad standings with a time of 1:17:15, while Eduard Nikolaev topped the Truck time sheet with a first stage result of 1:09:05. The rally resumes on Tuesday with the second stage, a 342-kilometer marathon from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona.