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Al-Attiyah and De Soultrait win, but Spain is lurking in the Dakar

Al-Attiyah and De Soultrait win, but Spain is lurking in the Dakar
Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) won this Monday in the car category the first stage of the Dakar and the French Xavier De Soultrait (Yamaha) did it on motorcycles. However, the Spanish Juan Pedrero (Sherko), Xavier Pons (Ford), Nani Roma and Carlos Sainz, both from Peugeot, were protagonists.
Upon his arrival at the Resistencia camp, De Soultrait was penalized an extra minute for exceeding the speed limit on the post-timed link, leaving Pedrero as the leader in the overall.
Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) prevailed in cars with a time of 25:41 minutes, closely followed by Spaniards Xavier Pons (Ford), second at 24 seconds, Nani Roma (Peugeot), third at 29, and Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), fourth to 33.
However, it was not all joy for Al-Attiyah, who said he smelled “smoke and fire” during the last ten kilometers of the special. As a precaution, he asked to be towed to Resistencia.
The first stage joined the city of Asunción with that of Resistencia, capital of the northern Argentine province of Chaco, with a 454-kilometer journey without great difficulties, 39 of them timed.
The special began in the town of Atyrá, in the department of Cordillera, and took place entirely on Paraguayan soil and under intense heat, something that seemed to sit well with the Spanish.
The reigning champion of the car category, Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel (Peugeot), was twelfth at 1:34 minutes, and his compatriot Sebastian Loeb (Peugeot) was sixth at 1:06.
“It’s not time to make my move yet,” said Loeb, who was satisfied with his final position.
South African Giniel De Villiers (Toyota) finished fifth at 41 seconds and Finn Mikko Hirvonen (Mini), ninth at 1:20.
In addition to the great performance in cars, Spain was also the protagonist in motorcycles thanks to Pedrero, who was only two seconds behind the winner, De Soultrait, later penalized.
The French won with a time of 28:20 minutes, just two seconds more than the Spanish.
American Ricky Brabec (Honda) was third and Frenchman Metge Michael (Honda) fourth.
The Spanish Joan Barreda (Honda) finished the stage seventh at 32 seconds, the Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) two seconds at 1:03 minutes and the Australian Toby Price (KTM), current champion, was seventeenth, 1:25 minutes behind Soultrait .
However, after his arrival at the Resistencia camp, De Soultrait was penalized with an extra minute for exceeding the speed limit on the link after the timed, leaving Pedrero as the leader in the general, falling to tenth position, and altering thus part of the general classification.
In trucks, the Czech Martin Kolomy (Tatra) won with 30 minutes, followed by the Dutch Ton Van Genugten (Iveco) at 13 seconds and his compatriot Martin Van Den Brink (Renault) at 25.
In quads, Yamaha and the South Americans started on the right foot and took over the podium.
Brazilian Marcelo Medeiros won the stage with a time of 32:53 minutes, followed by Argentine Gastón González at 1:02 minutes and Paraguayan Nelson Sanabria at 1:39 minutes.
In the UTV category the best time was made by the Dutch Tim Coronel (Suzuki) with 33.13 minutes, followed by his brother Tom Coronel (Suzuki) at 1.05 minutes and the Russian Maganov Ravil (Polaris).
The real complications will appear in the second stage, which runs this Tuesday, and takes the competitors to San Miguel de Tucumán through the province of Santiago del Estero.
This route, of 803 kilometers, 275 timed, will have as its main difficulty the dust, which would quickly transform into mud in case of rain.
In the fourth stage the pilots will enter Bolivia, they will have a rest day in La Paz on January 8, they will return to Argentine soil on the 10th and on the 14th they will conclude the race in Buenos Aires.
In total, it will be a journey of around 9,000 kilometers, about 4,000 of them timed, divided into 12 stages, six of which will be at altitude. EFE
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