Thursday, 18 July, 2019

Al-Attiyah takes Dakar opener, Loeb finishes without brakes

Dakar 2018 Brits ready for hardest race Al-Attiyah takes Dakar opener, Loeb finishes without brakes
Russell Knight | 20 January, 2018, 12:58

Two-time victor Nasser Al-Attiyah steered his Toyota to victory on the opening stage of the 9 000km Rally on Saturday, but he had a bad day Sunday after his co-pilot fell sick.

The Qatari finished 25 seconds more quickly than his Toyota teammate, Bernhard ten Brinke of the Netherlands, and with 34 seconds in hand over Peru's Nicolas Fuchs, driving for Borgward.

PISCO, Peru (AP) - Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah of Toyota won the first round of the rugged Dakar Rally on Saturday.

On the other hand, nine-time WRC champion Loeb lost his brakes just three kilometres into the test, losing a total of five minutes and 37 seconds to the rally leader as a result.

Al Attiyah is the reigning FIA Cross-Country World champion as well as the Middle East Rally Champion and the veteran driver is no doubt a top contender to tackle the 40th edition of the classic endurance event.

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Trucks, motorcycles, cars and quads are all welcomed into the race. However, security threats in Mauritania saw the rally moved to South America in 2009, where it has been held ever since.

Loeb said that his brakes had failed just three kilometers into the stage. "We try to do our best", he said. "There were dunes with steep descents, so I had to stop accelerating 200 metres before that to avoid any risks".

"I had to go very slow because it was quite tricky over the crests of the dunes: you couldn't see the downhill and it was easy to make a mistake".

In the motorcycle race, Britain's Sam Sunderland got his defense off to winning start, completing the desert sprint in 20 minutes and 56 seconds, with his closest rivals needing at least 30 extra seconds.

In the motorcycle category, Sunderland began his title defense strongly, closely followed by Frenchman Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha) and Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), who came third, 55 seconds behind the Brit. "I know you have to follow the road book, but when there are so many lines ahead, you just follow the tracks". The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally, the tenth to be held in South America, will start in Lima on January 6 to run south along the Pacific coast and cross Bolivia to finish in Cordoba, Argentina on January 20.

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