Nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb stunned his fellow competitors as he took victory on the first full stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally by 2 minutes 23 seconds.
The first stage of the rally was cancelled yesterday due to poor weather, which continued in to today, meaning that the planned 317 mile route was reduced to 240.
Loeb set the pace throughout the stage as he was quickest through every checkpoint, beating team-mate Stephane Peterhansel to the first stage victory.
“That was quite good news at the end because I didn’t believe it,” he said.
“I was stuck in the mud at the middle of the stage and was lucky to get out. I got stuck for maybe two minutes, something like that. At that moment I didn’t believe I would get out like I did. Finally, I managed to join the field again and resume the stage, but it was really on the limit so I was a bit afraid.
“Apart from that, I had a good stage with no problems, trying to find a good rhythm and it was OK.” he added.
While two Peugeot 2008DKR’s head the timesheets, another WRC Legend struggled with his; Carlos Sainz lost over 10 minutes with engine problems meaning he dropped out of the overall top 10.
Another WRC-turned-Dakar debutant, Mikko Hirvonen brought his X-raid Mini home in fifth place behind the Toyotas of Vladimir Vasilyev and Giniel de Villiers. WRC regular Martin Prokop brought his Toyota home in ninth place.
2014 winner Nani Roma suffered problems when his X-raid Mini became stuck in a muddy section, the incident would cost him over 45 minutes.
Britain’s hope for Dakar, Harry Hunt finished the stage sixteenth place in his Mini.
Toby Price leads the motorcycles on his KTM, Hans Stacey leads the Trucks in his MAN and Ignacio Casale heads the quad bikes.