Al-Attiyah wins opening Dakar stage before hitting trouble


Nasser Al Attiyah won the opening stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally - Credit: Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Two-time Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah was the pacesetter on the opening stage of the 2017 event, a 39 kilometre special stage in Paraguay.

The Qatari and his Toyota co-driver Matthieu Baumel set a best time of 25 minutes and 41 seconds as the legendary event got underway on Monday, and Al-Attiyah ended the stage with a 24-second advantage over Ford Ranger star Xevi Pons.

Despite setting the pace, Al-Attiyah ended the day being towed by team-mate Giniel de Villiers on the road section, with a fire needing to be extinguished.

Nani Roma ended the stage third quickest for Toyota ahead of Carlos Sainz, who was the leading Peugeot entrant in fourth, ahead of de Villiers and Sebastien Loeb.

Juan Pedrero Garcia set the pace in the Bike classifications with a time of 28 minutes and 22 seconds for Sherco, although Yamaha privateer Xavier de Soultrait had gone faster only to be hit with a one-minute penalty for speeding that relegated him to tenth.

Honda duo Ricky Brabec and Paulo Goncalves were second and third respectively ahead of leading Briton Sam Sunderland of KTM and Spaniard Joan Barreda Bort of Honda.

Marcelo Medeiros was quickest in the Quads classification, his time of 32 minutes and 53 seconds more than a minute faster than second placed Gaston Gonzalez, while local rider Nelson Augusto Sanabria Galeano made it a trio of Yamaha’s inside the top three.

Martin Kolomy was on top in the Trucks classification with a time of 30 minutes exactly, with the Tatra driver 13-seconds ahead of Ton van Genugten of Iveco, while Martin van den Brink put his Renault into third, 12-seconds further back.

Dutchman Tim Coronel was fastest in the UTV classification with a time of 33 minutes and 13 seconds in his Suzuki, ahead of Russian Maganov Ravil (Polaris) and Romanian Andreu Cachafeiro Vidal (Yamaha).