Three-time Dakar rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah remained at the top of the standings after the first day of the 2022 event.
After winning the car class prologue on Saturday, Al-Attiyah triumphed on Sunday in the first stage of 514 kilometers, which he completed in just over three and a half hours in his Toyota Gazoo Racing.
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The Qatar native opened up a 12-minute lead over rallying legend Sebastien Loeb as other high-profile contenders for Audi struggled in the opening of the prestigious endurance race.
Carlos Sainz, who won the event in 2020, ’18 and ’10, was 28th and more than two hours ahead of Al-Attiyah in his electric hybrid Audi, which the Spaniard feared losing power .
An accident required lengthy repairs to the Audi of Stéphane Peterhansel, 13 times winner of the general classification, dealing a serious blow to the hopes of “Mr. Dakar” defending his 2021 title.
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A solid start for Seth Quintero since the American wins the first stage of the light prototype division while some big names are in difficulty. At 19, Quintero is trying to become the youngest winner in Dakar history.
In the motorcycle category, Daniel Sanders opened a 3-minute lead after winning the first stage.
Mason Klein was the fifth highest ranked American runner. Other notable Americans: Skyler Howes (10th); Andrew Short (19th) and winner of the general classification of bikes 2020 Ricky Brabec (35th).
Here are the first three in each category after day 1:
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 3:30:53; 2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 3:43:37; 3. Martin Prokop (CZE), Team Benzina Orlen, 3:53:32.
1. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GasGas Factory Racing, 4:38:40; 2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Monster Energy Honda, 4:41:47; 3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 4:49:46. Other American Notables: 5. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 4:53:14; 10. Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing, 5:03:52; 35. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 5:38:56.
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 4:06:22; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 4:06:53; 3. Ales Loprais (CZE), Instaforex Loprais Praga, 4:16:20.
1. Seth Quintero (United States), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, 4:21:35; 2. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS – Course Sud, 4:23:33; 3. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS – South Racing, 4:28:27.
1. Aron Domzala (POL), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 4:37:26; 2. Austin Jones (United States), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 4:39:24; 3. Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira (BRA), South Racing Can-Am, 4:41:28.