January 7 th 2019 - 21:46 [GMT -5]
Pisco is not only the city that has given its name to Pisco Sour, a cocktail that is the pride of the country as well as a source of many arguments and discussions with their Chilean neighbours about just who invented it. Since 2012 and the first visit of the Dakar, it has been one of the rally’s “classics”. On this first stage, the riders, drivers and crews did battle among the dunes for almost 70% of the special stage route. To the north of the Ica region, this specific geographical zone has been named California!
Joan Barreda set the stopwatches buzzing on the opening stage of the Dakar by putting a significant distance for such a short stage (84 km) between himself and his closest pursuer Pablo Quintanilla: 1’34’’. It brought him the 23rd victory in his career on the rally, while Argentinean Nicolás Cavigliasso opened up an even bigger gap, of almost 4 minutes, over his countryman Jeremías González Ferioli. In the car category, Nasser Al Attiyah began with a win, like last year, on the special between Lima and Pisco, bringing his roll of honour to 32 stage victories and leaving him behind only Ari Vatanen (with 50) and Stéphane Peterhansel (41). The Qatari driver will start the second stage with a lead of 1’59’’ over Carlos Sainz. In the SxS race, the title holder reminded the newcomers just who the boss of the category is, with the stage victory going to Reinaldo Varela in front of Chaleco López. The situation was similar in the truck race, with the stage won by Eduard Nikolaev in his Kamaz, but only 18 seconds ahead of Dutchman Ton Van Genugten.
Performance of the day
After an especially frustrating 2018 edition for the Honda rider, Joan Barreda has started 2019 in the best way possible. The Spaniard added to his collection of stage victories and now lies only one behind a certain Hubert Auriol, allowing him to take command of the general standings. Having often tasted misfortune on the Dakar, Barreda has once again proved that he is among the quickest riders, with impressive gaps for such a limited amount of kilometres… Xavier de Soultrait, on the lowest rung of the provisional top 10, is almost 6 minutes behind the leader.
A crushing blow
Axel Dutrie could hardly have imagined a more complicated start to the rally. After his quad broke down at only the 18-km point, the Frenchman spent much time trying to restart before resigning himself to returning to the start of the special to repair his Yamaha. The Gallic rider, who is taking part in his third Dakar, is likely to lose several hours to the day’s winner and will have to forget any ideas of winning in Lima, a genuine shame after twice leaving a very good impression on his first two participations, finishing respectively in 5th and 9th position.
Stat of the day
With more than 6 minutes lost to Nasser Al-Attiyah over only 84 kilometres, Sébastien Loeb experienced a difficult first stage. It should be said that the man from Alsace is not returning to the Dakar in the same conditions as the last three years, because he is now driving a 2017 Peugeot 3008 entered by the private team PH Sport. The former WRC champion has never been an aficionado of sand and dunes, but they will make up the most part of the route in 2019…
Quote of the day
Adrien van Beveren: “I didn’t really go for it and I didn’t really have much fun, because I didn’t dare to go on all out attack, to be honest. There were some difficult dunes which were dangerous. We also went through a river bed which brought back bad memories. That said, I’m happy – we’ve finally got down to the nitty gritty of the race. Now I’ll have to remain focused day after day and that should ensure that things go well”.