Nasser Al-Attiyah and Xavier de Soultrait were among the winners after the first stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally on Monday. The former won in the cars event, while Frenchman De Soultrait claimed victory after the opening stage on the bikes.
Brazil's Marcelo Medeiros won on the quads, while Tim Coronel set the pace in the UTV event. Martin Kolomy took the first stage among the truck drivers, per Racer.com, on the opening day of official competition, stretching from Asuncion in Paraguay to Resistencia in Argentina.
De Soultrait paced the rest in the bike category, clocking an impressive finish time of less than 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Al-Attiyah's vehicle crossed the line eight seconds shy of 18 minutes.
The competition's official Twitter account confirmed the top three in each of the main events:
Here's what the schedule looks like for the rest of the rally:
|Dakar Rally 2017: Schedule|
|Stage||Date||Bike/Quad Distance (KM)||Car/UTV Distance (KM)||Truck Distance (KM)|
|2||Tuesday, January 3||803||803||812|
|3||Wednesday, January 4||780||780||757|
|4||Thursday, January 5||416||416||521|
|5||Friday, January 6||692||692||683|
|6||Saturday, January 7||786||786||772|
|Rest Day||Sunday, January 8|
|7||Monday, January 9||622||622||622|
|8||Tuesday, January 10||892||892||892|
|9||Wednesday, January 11||977||977||977|
|10||Thursday, January 12||751||751||751|
|11||Friday, January 13||759||759||759|
|12||Saturday, January 14||786||786||786|
Full full route information, visit the tournament's official site.
It was an eventful stage for Al-Attiyah. The decorated Qatari rally driver set a speed the other drivers couldn't match, but his race wasn't without incident.
In fact, engine trouble blighted the man who has won the Dakar twice previously. He even needed a tow from team-mate Giniel de Villiers late on, according to Motorsport's Valentin Khorounzhiy.
Afterward, Al-Attiyah described what happened on the circuit:
Another prime contender, Spaniard Xavier Pons, was the closest to keeping pace with Al-Attiyah during the first stage. However, Pons finished almost 30 seconds behind his rival.
In the bikes event, it was De Soultrait who was pushed to a nervy finish. Ultimately, the Frenchman crossed the line a mere two seconds in front of Juan Pedrero, per Khorounzhiy.
Despite the narrow win, De Soultrait felt confident enough to immediately spell out his intention to reach even greater success this year:
One rider off the pace was last year's winner, Toby Price. The Australian could only clock a time of 20:36. It left him well adrift of De Soultrait in 15th.
Unlike De Soultrait, Kolomy won with a little more room to spare. He posted a time of 30 minutes, good enough for a gap of 13 seconds ahead of Dutchman Ton van Genugten.
Riders in every key event will now prepare for a demanding second stage. Rally competitors will have to combat the infamous Chaco region, throwing up chalk and dust to deter the unsteady riders, according to the tournament's official site.
It's another chance for prime contenders like De Soultrait and Al-Attiyah to show their credentials to win this year's Dakar.