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  • THE DAKAR 2018 ROUTE WILL BE RELEASED THE 22nd OF MARCH... ARE YOU READY??

STAGE 1

Asunción > Resistencia - 454 Km

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Ranking stage 1

List of withdrawals

Stage summary

Al Attiyah on fire!
Focus

For the first time in its history, the Dakar has visited Paraguay and to launch its 2017 edition from the capital Asuncion for a sole and single stage with a 39-km special. As such, Paraguay has become the 29th country to welcome the Dakar, boasting a superb setting with lush jungle-like vegetation favoured by a tropical climate. This makes for a technically tricky route and trial-like tracks which in particular enabled Xavier Pons, 2nd in the car category, to express his skill in handling his vehicle.

The essentials

What a performance from Xavier de Soultrait! After withdrawing in 2016, he quite simply grabbed his first special stage victory ahead of two other outsiders, Juan Pedrero (Sherco) and Ricky Brabec (Honda). However, the Frenchman exceeded the speed limit on the link stage and is likely to receive a penalty which will put Pedrero at the top of the general standings. Michael Metge completed the day's Top 4, while Joan Barreda grabbed the 7th best time despite a problem in a ford. In the quad race, Marcelo Medeiros was victorious with a lead of more than one minute, while local favourite Nelson Sanabria finished the stage in third place in front of his countrymen and women. In the car category, Nasser Al-Attiyah finished his first stage behind the wheel of a Toyota with a victory. He literally played with fire, however, as flames started to lick around his Hilux a short way from the finishing line. The leading Peugeot, driven by Carlos Sainz, took fourth place with Sébastien Loeb in sixth. In the truck race, Martin Kolomy let the power of his brand new Tatra Phoenix do the talking, to win the first stage just in front of Dutchman Ton Van Genugten.

Performance of the day

Although feverish over the last few days, at the start of his second Dakar Xavier Pons surprised everyone by getting involved in the battle for victory with Nasser Al-Attiyah. After an encouraging debut in 2016, prior to the race this regular on the traditional rally circuit had pinpointed this first stage and took advantage of a profile that suited him perfectly. The Spaniard even said he was looking to shine again tomorrow before tempering his remarks later on.

A crushing blow

The Dakar 2017 soon became a nightmare for Sébastien Souday, participating in the quad category. After a fall on the special, the Frenchman arrived at the finishing line with a fractured wrist and his injury could oblige him to withdraw, even if he chose to carry on along the link stage after receiving medical assistance. After having dropped out in 2015 and 2016, this is another crushing blow for the Yamaha rider, who nonetheless has enjoyed an excellent season prior to the Dakar, even featuring among the pretenders for the final podium.

Stats of the day: 5

Nasser Al Attiyah offered Toyota its 5th stage victory in the history of the Dakar and the third since the arrival of the Hiluxes after the special won in 2013 by Giniel de Villiers and another in 2015 by Yazeed Al Rajhi.

Quote of the day

Xavier de Soultrait: “Winning a stage in the Dakar is incredible and it's already a step upwards. However, it's not my ultimate goal: I want to win the Dakar. Why not this year? I'm putting the pieces of the puzzle in place little by little and things are starting to take shape!”

Quotes

500 - GERARD DE ROOY: “You must be lucky otherwise you don't win the Dakar”
“It wasn't too bad. The special went great, with only a little fire after the finish. I don't know exactly what happened but I saw some bits of trees between the brakes and they got really hot. When we slowed down there was more air coming in to start a fire, just in the last five hundred metres. You must be lucky otherwise you don't win the Dakar. Over all the special we did a great time I think, so we didn't lose much time because of this. It's good to have started the race and got the first kilometres over with. It takes the pressure off. Now we can really start to race. The speed was good. I'm not the fastest guy on these type of tracks and I know this, so I have to take care with the tyres and not break down. I did a good job, I think. I think the longer stages and altitude will be good for me, but we'll have to wait for that for a few days”.
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Dakar Mag

Dakar fever grips Asunción

It took a detour around the presidential palace, crossing several roadblocks and checkpoints, and a long walk to get to the official village entrance. However, few things would have been able to deflect the inhabitants of Asunción on Sunday from their objective: seeing the Dakar, its futuristic machines and its adventurers from up close. Óscar Quintana and Gloria Bernal (30 and 25 years old, respectively) braved the scorching heat to check out an event they see as an opportunity to boost the reputation of their country. "It's quite exciting to see so many foreigners coming to visit us. The importance of this race is also surprising", says Óscar, who is pleased that his country went through the effort of bringing the Dakar. Gloria even read up on the race: "I read that the rally had already visited Bolivia and used to have a different name".

Wandering through the incessant flow of weekend ramblers filling the aisles of the village, Óscar and Gloria stay at the foot of the podium under the baking sun and bereft of the slightest breeze: there is no way they are going to give up their vantage point. Thermometers hit 40 °C on Sunday and Romy, another inhabitant of Asunción, uses a piece of cardboard as makeshift protection. She knows little about motor sports, but she is fascinated by the international hustle-and-bustle. She admits curiosity brought her here, while the man next to her, Edgar, says he knows local quad rider Nelson Sanabria and Italian motorcycle rider Manuel Lucchese: "I follow them on social media. Now, I'm going to see them in the flesh, on the ramp!" He is particularly impressed by the technological marvels of the machines.

As the loudspeakers start blaring out the names of the first competitors parading past the podium, Pablo Navarro and Christian Cajica, one particular spectator seems petrified: 35-year-old Julio Alalcón remains immobile, eyes locked on the podium in awe of the maelstrom of colours of the competitors' outfits. "Words fail me to describe how this makes me feel. I've got all emotional!" There were more than enough feels to go around in Asunción!

Countries & Route

Official TV broadcasters
live timing
special n°1 bike quad car UTV truck
1st start
(gmt -3)
08:0008:0011:0311:0313:45
Number of participants
start14337771050
left14337771050
cp 113835731049
arrival14237761049