Ex-WRC champ takes Dakar opener
EARLY HIGH-FLYER: Ex-World Rally champion Carlos Sainz jumps his Red Bull buggy into the lead on Day 1 of the 2013 Dakar rally in Lima, Peru. Image: AFP
LIMA, Peru - Former World rally champion Carlos Sainz won the first stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally here on Saturday.
With German navigator Timo Gottschalk in his Red Bull buggy, the Spaniard covered the 13km over dunes in 07min40 at the beach resort of Pisco.
HEAD START FOR SUNDAY
Argentine Lucia Alvarez was second in a Toyota and 2011 defending Dakar trophy-holder Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar was tied for third in his buggy with SMG driver Guerlain Chicherit of France.
Dakar stage 1 gallery
The sprint victory gives Sainz an eight-second head start in Sunday's 327km desert endurance stage.
Sainz said afterwards: "This stage was just a short prologue, about 13km. It was just a warm-up. Things get serious on Sunday."
South Africans Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz finished ninth and 1min45 off the pace, followed by Duncan Vos and Rob Howie in 13th and 2min12 down. They are driving SA-assembled Toyota Hilux bakkies.
De Villiers commented later: "Going through the first stage is always nice because it means the race is finally under way! Especially for me, as I haven't raced for a while.
"I've still got to take up some of my good habits again and this special helped me with that, even when it came to navigating. So we're delighted with our time and position and looking forward to Sunday..."
2013 is the fifth South American running of the race and the 34th in the series. It will cover 8500km with 14 stages through Peru, Argentina and Chile, finishing on January 19 in Santiago de Chile.
STRONG START FOR SA BIKERS
On the bikes side, the all-South African Broadlink KTM Rally Team of Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk made a strong start on Saturday.
Van Niekerk, competing in his first Dakar, was 15th in the 13km opening special stage in Pisco after a 250km liaison section from the start in Lima in Peru. He was 33sec behind the winner, Francisco Lopez of Chile, on a KTM.
Curtis, who finished 22nd in the 2012 Dakar Rally on a KTM at his first attempt, was 25th and 47sec behind Lopez.
Curtis said afterwards: “The first stage was cool, very motocross-like, in the dunes around Pisco. It was very hot – around 40 – and the number of spectators who turned out to watch was overwhelming. There were thousands at the start in Lima and they lined the road all the way down the coast to Pisco.
“I was a bit distracted by the crowds on the liaison stage and hit a kerb, landing upside down. I hope that won’t happen again!”
Sunday’s 242km bike special stage will follow an 85km liaison section and see competitors immediately thrown a stiff challenge of sand dunes and high temperatures.
They will return to Pisco for a second night.
DAY 1 RESULTS
Dakar Rally results after Saturday (Jan 5 2013) opening stage (263km/13km timed) from Lima to Pisco
1 Carlos Sainz (ESP/Buggy) 7min40
2 Lucio Alvarez (ARG/Toyota) +8sec
3 Guerlain Chicherit (FRA/SMG) +10sec
4 Nasser al-Attiyah (QAT/Buggy) +10sec
5 Ronan Chabot (FRA/SMG) +12sec
6 Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL/Mini) +34sec
7 Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/Mini) +34sec
8 Stephane Peterhansel (SUI/Mini) +34sec
9 Giniel De Villiers (RSA/Toyota) +35sec
10 Nani Roma (ESP/Mini) +37sec
1 Francisco Lopez (CHI/KTM) 7min51
2 Frans Verhoeven (NED/Yamaha) +1sec
3 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/Honda) +5sec
4 Patricio Cabrera (CHI/Kawasaki) +11sec
5 Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) +13sec
6 David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) +15sec
7 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +19sec
8 Javier Pizzolito (ARG/Honda) +21sec
9 Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) +26sec
10 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Husqvarna) +29sec
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