Nasser Al-Attiyah stamped his authority on the 2019 Dakar Rally as he took his Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Hilux to the top of the times for the opening stage.
Completing the 52-mile stage in 1 hour, 1 minute, and 41 seconds, the Qatari holds an advantage of 1 minute, 59 seconds over 2018 victor Carlos Sainz Sr., who this year has switched to the X-raid Mini team after Peugeot announced their decision to withdraw the factory team for 2019.
With the French manufacturer dominating the standings in previous years, this years top ten looks very different, behind Sainz is team-mate Jakub Przygonski.
Outside of the top three Vladimir Vasilyev put in an impressive performance in his privately entered Toyota Hilux to claim fourth place ahead of Yayzeed Al Rajhi (Mini) and Giniel de Villiers (Toyota).
Stephane Peterhansel holds seventh place in the Mini ahead of Toyotas’ Bernhard ten Brinke.
Britains Harry Hunt finished the day in ninth place in the PH Sport Peugeot, team-mate Sébastien Loeb had a quiet start to the rally, finishing in thirteenth, ahead of team-mate Pierre Lachaume.
Cyril Despres rounded out the top ten in the cars.
Motorcycles / SXS / Trucks
Joan Barreda Bort took his Monster Energy backed Honda through the stage in a time of 57 minutes, 36 seconds to lead the motorcycles, Pablo Quintanilla on the Husqvarna denied Honda a 1-2 with Ricky Brabec finishing the first day in third.
Britiain’s Sam Sunderland finished the stage in fifth place at the front of a trio of KTM’s, Toby Price in sixth and Matthias Walkner in seventh.
Argentinian Nicolas Cavigliasso leads the way in the quad’s ahead of Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli and Tomas Kubiena.
The SXS buggy class sees Brazilian Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin at the front, chased by Francisco Lopez Contardo and Zlarao Juan Leon Quintanilla in second and Gerard Farres Guell and Daniel Oliveras Carreras in third place.
Eduard Nikolaev/Evgenii Iakovlev/Vladimir Rybakov end the first day at the top of the Trucks with Ton van Genugten/Bernard der Kinderen/Peter Willemsen in second and Federico Villagra/Adrian Arturo Yacopini/Ricardo Adrian Torlaschi in third.
The second day of the Dakar will see competitors take on the epic 200+ mile test, starting in the coastal town of Pisco, before heading southwards to San Juan de Marcona.