Dakar 2021, Stage 1: Sainz leads Mini teammate Peterhansel

Carlos Sainz edged out Stephane Peterhansel in the opening stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally to establish an early 1-2 for the X-raid Mini team in Saudi Arabia.

The lead in the cars category changed hands several times during the 277km stage from Jeddah to Bisha, as overnight leader Nasser Al-Attiyah ceded three minutes in the opening 37km stretch and immediately dropped down the order.

Vaidotas Zala was the first to snatch the top spot in one of X-raid’s 4x4 Mini Coopers, before Sainz and Peterhansel duked it out for the lead in the marque’s two buggies.

Sainz, who suffered a puncture in Prologue and started 28th on the road, had a major setback when he lost over three minutes in the penultimate section, but he came back strongly in the final stretch of the day, winning the stage by 25 seconds.

That put him just eight seconds ahead of Peterhansel in the general classifications, helped by the 13-time event winner suffering a puncture in the final 50km of the stage.

Leading the non-Mini charge was Czech driver Martin Prokop, who put his Benzina Team-run Ford entry ahead of the Century cars of Mathieu Serradori and Yasir Seaidan.

Ex-WRC driver Khalid Al Qassimi placed a privateer Peugeot run by the PH Sport team in sixth, ending the day with an identical time to that of Seaidan.

The factory Toyota team failed to break inside the top five, with Giniel de Villiers finishing more than eight minutes down in seventh and three-time champion Al-Attiyah three places further back in 10th.

They were separated by 2014 winner Nani Roma (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) and Jakub Przygonski, the latter driving an Overdrive-run Toyota Hilux.

While Roma secured a top 10 spot for the Prodrive-run BRX team on its debut, there was drama for teammate Sebastien Loeb, the Frenchman losing a whopping 24 minutes after suffering three separate punctures over the course of the day.

Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Overdrive Toyota), Orlando Terranova (Mini) and Bernhard Ten Brinke (Overdrive) were some of the other leading contenders to suffer a disastrous start to the rally raid, each of the trio conceding over 20 minutes to Sainz in the opening stage.

Standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):

Pos.

Driver

Car

Time/Gap

1

Spain Carlos Sainz

Mini

3hr12m20s

2

France Stephane Peterhansel

Mini

8s

3

Czech Republic Martin Prokop

Ford

2m59s

4

France Mathieu Serradori

Century

6m13s

5

Saudi Arabia Yasir Seaidan

Century

7m53s

6

United Arab Emirates Khalid Al Qassimi

Peugeot

7m53s

7

South Africa Giniel de Villiers 

Toyota

8m43s

8

Spain Nani Roma

BRX

9m22s

9

Poland Jakub Przygonski

Toyota

9m22s

10

Qatar Nasser Al-Attiyah

Toyota

11m58s

In the SxS class, Cristina Gutierrez became the first female driver to win a stage in the Dakar Rally since 2005.

Gutierrez, who will drive for Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton's team in the new Extreme E series this year, beat Austin Jones by nearly seven minutes to bag the stage win, as ex-bikes frontrunner Francisco 'Chaleco' Lopez finished another 37s adrift in third.

Kamaz driver Dmitry Sotnikov took top honours in the Trucks class, capitalising on a tough day for reigning champion Andrey Karginov, who lost over 90 minutes and finished outside the top 20.

Ales Loprais was classified second, while Anton Shibalov made it two Kamaz trucks in the top three.

Additional reporting by Sergio Lillo

shares
comments

Related video

Dakar 2021, Stage 1: Price grabs lead, Brabec struggles
Previous article

Dakar 2021, Stage 1: Price grabs lead, Brabec struggles

Next article

Sainz: COVID "doubles pressure" on 2021 Dakar Rally

Sainz: COVID "doubles pressure" on 2021 Dakar Rally
Load comments