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Dakar ’18 -Day 1- Peugeot comes up short, Bryce 4th!

Focus 

The opening stage of the 2018 Dakar consisted of a spectacular link section along the Pacific coast followed by a 31 km sprint near Pisco —the ideal warm-up before the first real difficulties of the rally emerge in the next few days. It helped competitors to get a feel for the dunes of the Ica Desert near Pisco (where the famous Peruvian brandy of the same name is made) before a beautiful downhill that gave specialists the chance to shine.

The essentials

Defending champion Sam Sunderland stamped his authority on the race with a solid win in Pisco. The official KTM rider is the first leader, 32 seconds ahead of a stellar Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha). Pablo Quintanilla and Joan Barreda also came within striking distance, whereas 2016 winner Toby Price finished a distant 14th. Ignacio Casale sent a clear message to his rivals in the quad category by nabbing his first stage win ahead of defending champion Sergey Karyakin and Frenchman Sébastien Souday, who has yet to finish the Dakar despite three previous attempts. Meanwhile, in the car category, Al-Attiyah again showed his determination to end the reign of Peugeot with a victory that holds the promise of several more. The Qatari’s teammate, Bernhard ten Brinke, confirmed the stellar performance of the new Toyota while Stéphane Peterhansel was forced on the defensive. Aleš Loprais, on the other hand, took his sixth stage win in the truck category as he chases the overall victory that has eluded him so far. Martin van den Brink and Eduard Nikolaev are under 30 seconds back. Finally, Aníbal Aliaga gave Peru even more reasons to celebrate with a stage win in the S×S category on his Dakar debut.

Performance of the day

Bryce Menzies could hardly have hoped for a better start to his first Dakar. The American Bajas expert finished his first special in third place, a mere 38 seconds adrift of the great Nasser Al-Attiyah. He even beat team leader Nani Roma as the first Mini driver on the standings.

A crushing blow

The inaugural stage turned into a nightmare for Sébastien Loeb. Peugeot’s Alsatian driver found himself without functional brakes after just 3 km of racing. The nine-time WRC champion has already lost over five minutes to Nasser Al-Attiyah and will have to work very hard to claw them back.

Stat of the day 

A mere 33 seconds separated Adrien van Beveren from a second consecutive Dakar stage win over Sam Sunderland. However, the French rider is on the rise and determined to pile the pressure on his English winter training companion and brother-in-law!

Quote of the day

Stéphane Peterhansel: “I didn’t feel comfortable with the headlamps so high. I wasn’t very confident, so I drove like a granny. I spent the entire stage on the defensive. Proportionally, we conceded lots of time to Nasser. Two minutes in 30 kilometres is a big deal. We need to ease into the race, things will work out.”

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Event Schedules
Jan 06-20 Dakar
Jan 25-26 International Off-Road & UTV Expo
Jan 25-28 San Felipe Desert Mayhem 150
Jan 27 MORE - Slash X Duel in the Desert
Jan 27 Stadium Super Trucks
Feb 01-04 BITD - Bluewater Parker 425
Feb 02-10 King of the Hammers
Feb 09-11 SNORE Battle at Primm
Feb 16-18 CODE Method Grand Prix
Feb 23-24 TDRA - West Texas 200
Feb 23-25 ORS - Ojos Negros 200
Mar 03 Southern California 4x4 Swapmeet
Mar 08-11 BITD - Mint 400
Mar 17 Lucas - Glen Helen Raceway
Mar 17-18 MORE - Transaxle Eneineer Challenge
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