HA’IL, Saudi Arabia – Spanish racer Carlos Sainz recorded history on Tuesday by winning the first Dakar Rally stage in a T1-Ultimate machine, a category reserved for alternatively powered vehicles.
Sainz’s win in the 255km scheduled stage was shortened by 100km due to heavy rains across the region. It was Sainz’s 40th Dakar stage win, which resulted ahead of Stéphane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekström on the event podium.
“I’m happy with the car, we were able to drive fast today,” Sainz said. “This is the first race for this car so we are learning so much all the time.”
It may have been a second consecutive day without a stage win for Nasser Al-Attiyah, but the Toyota Hilux T1+ driver still managed to extend his lead in the car race to over 37 minutes.
Frenchman Sébastien Loeb had been pushing Al-Attiyah hard across the dunes, but losing four-wheel drive on his BRX Hunter cost the nine-time WRC winner.
“We tried to minimise risk today and finish the stage without any problems,” Al-Attiyah said. “I think we’re in a good position for tomorrow’s long and difficult stage.”
Loeb added: “It was a bad day for us. We broke the car’s prop shaft so we lost four-wheel drive. Doing this stage with two-wheel drive was really tough. I’m happy to reach the end of the stage.”
Spain’s Laia Sanz, meanwhile, continued her steep learning curve after switching from bikes into a MINI ALL4 Racing car.
As for Two-time bike winner Toby Price, he fought back from the navigation confusion during stage one that cost him second-place on Tuesday, cutting the deficit to 26 minutes, 21 seconds behind leader Sam Sunderland.
Price’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders, Kevin Benavides and Matthias Walkner, starred with defending champion Benavides at eighth overall. Walkner sits third, just 90 seconds off the lead.
“I need to push day by day to make up the time lost on the first stage,” Benavides said. “I will stay patient because you never know when something big can happen at the Dakar.”
Defending truck race champion Dmitry Sotnikov continues to lead the charge for Team Kamaz Master as he leads ahead of Eduard Nikolaev, Andrey Karginov and Anton Shibalov.