DEFENDING CHAMPION QATAR’S AL-ATTIYAH WINS OPENING STAGE OF DAKAR RALLY

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, defended his status as champion of the Dakar Rally on Monday, winning the first stage of the legendary race.

Driving a Toyota, Al-Attiyah overcame mechanical problems, both at the start and shortly before the finish, of the first stage, which covered a looping 454-kilometre stretch of dirt and dust, from the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, to Resistencia in Argentina.

Al-Attiyah set the pace, completing the timed section in 25 minutes and 41 seconds.

This is the ninth time the race is being staged in South America.

A group of Spaniards – Xavi Pons in a Ford; Nani Roma in a Toyota; and Carlos Sainz in a Peugeot – finished second, third and fourth, in the car division, respectively. Al-Attiyah won the Dakar Rally last year and in 2011.

Tuesday’s (today’s) second stage will cross 803 kilometres, through the Chaco region west of San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina. The 39th edition of the rally is taking place in Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia, in 12 stages, covering almost 9,000 kilometres. The rally is scheduled to conclude Jan 14, in Buenos Aires.

Almost 400 vehicles, including motorcycles and quads, competing in separate divisions, drove Sunday, from just outside Asuncion, across the promenade along the Paraguay River, to a symbolic start in front of the government palace.

Paraguayan President, Horacio Cartes and his Bolivian counterpart, Evo Morales, waved the starting flag.

 

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK