Riders and drivers comment about their first stage on Chilean soil in this year's edition of Dakar!
007 - Francisco LOPEZ “The first part of the special went very well, but on the second section, the engine lost a fair bit of power and I started wondering whether it was a fuel problem or due to the altitude. I don't know, but I should find out when I get to the bivouac”.
011 - Ruben FARIA “I knew that it was the first stage on hard terrain so I had to make the most of it. I set of in 13th place and tried to go flat out, but I wasn't able to go as fast as I wanted with all the dust on the special. What's more, Paulo Gonçalves overtook me... On the second part, I found a good pace and moved up. I would have liked to have won the stage today because it's my wife's birthday and I wanted to dedicate the victory to her. Nevermind, she'll just have to be happy with 2nd place. That said, from a racing point of view it's better, because I will have less time to wait for Cyril, who must have finished in third place.”
009 - Olivier PAIN “Apart from a small navigation error at the start of the special, which must have lost me around 3 minutes, I managed to catch up with Casteu and Pedrero at the end of the dunes before overtaking them. Afterwards, I opened the road and attacked, but made sure I didn't take too many risks, because it was quite tricky. On the second section, I knew that Cyril would have trouble overtaking with all the dust around, but I still rode fast to keep the lead in the general standings. So, it's a good day in general, because I gained some time back on Casteu and didn't lose too much to Cyril. I'm still in the lead of the Dakar, for the 3rd day running – it's great! But I'm not letting it get to my head; I'll continue as I am, taking it day by day!”
254 - Ignacio Nicolás CASALE “Today I managed to win the stage. It's like a dream finishing in front of all these riders who are so, so good like Marcos (Patronelli) or Husseini. It also proves that I'm capable of a good pace and that I can ride very well. It gives me confidence to continue attacking and attacking. I haven't got the words to tell you how happy I am. It's just total delight. Now, I'm going to get some rest, because the stage was very long.”
300 - Nasser AL-ATTIYAH “We did a good job and I'm quite happy to be here, without any mistakes, the car working very well, the tyres were really good, and I'm quite happy with everything. We just try to keep going like this and we try to keep close to Peter because maybe tomorrow the stage might not be for us, but okay, if we lose, we lose just a few minutes. We can feel the altitude, but we have a good ratio and we fixed it yesterday for altitude to keep the rpm always very high. Yeah, I'm quite happy.”
302 - Stéphane PETERHANSEL “We had our first mishap today in the dunes around Iquique. The sand was very soft. Nani took advantage to overtake us, but several kilometres further on, we saw him stuck in a hollow, which just goes to show how complicated it is. After that, we moved on to very quick WRC type tracks, very nice to drive on, before we hit the fesh-fesh to finish with lots of dust. What's more, when you open the road, you start to catch up with bikers and quads, so we preferred to not take risks and remain calm.”
303 - Carlos SAINZ “I've had a lot of problems since the start of the rally, and today just took the biscuit! Something must have broken in the engine, but I don't know exactly what. It just happened all of a sudden. There wasn't any temperature warning or anything. But on the whole, I'm feeling positive and happy. We knew what happened was always a possibility: it's a new vehicle which hasn't driven that much. It all happened very quickly. But it was worth coming here with this concept. The proof is that Nasser (Al Attiyah) is battling for victory. I hope the experience will be useful for the future even if I'm not sure whether I'll come back”.
315 - Robby GORDON “It was okay. We stayed on the road early and a bunch of guys cut – which is okay, you can do that. We lost about five minutes on the first section because we stayed up on the road and I could see down the valley where a few motorcycles had gone. I'm pretty confident that's where Nasser went. When you have cars to follow you can see the dust trail in front of you and go to the dust trail and that's a big advantage. We were late on our transfer special by about three minutes as well.”
503 - Ales LOPRAIS “It was tough because today we started 12th or 13th truck, I don't know, between ten and twenty. It meant there was a lot of dust. The first part was really dangerous. We kept our position and passed many cars and trucks. Sometimes it was really crazy and I was asking myself, ‘What the hell am I doing here?' It's too crazy for me but finally we made it. I started to push and push because after the disappointment of yesterday's electrical problems when we lost the leadership I decided to attack.”