Dakar Rally 2023: Carlos Sainz wins stage 1 ahead of Sébastien Loeb

(Motorsport-Total.com) – Audi driver Carlos Sainz has won the first stage of the 2023 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. It was the 42nd victory of the day for “El Matador”. Sébastien Loeb (BRX) prevented a one-two for Audi, the Frenchman moving up to third place ahead of Mattias Ekström.

Carlos Sainz claimed his 42nd Dakar Rally stage victory

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(update: Ekström then received a 15-minute time penalty, dropping him to 15th place. Guerlain Chicherit, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Brian Baragwanath also received penalties, which is why today’s result for this trio also changed slightly.)

The first leg started on New Year’s Day from “Sea Camp” heading south inland past the coastal town of Yanbu. The assessed section was 367 kilometers. The track was characterized by sand, but also by hard and rocky sections.

After the marked stage, the connecting route led about 200 kilometers north along the Red Sea coast so that the participants could return to the bivouac. The best drivers had decided to start from the back in the top 10.

Henk Lategan (Toyota) opened the day ahead of Orlando Terranova (BRX). Sainz was the first co-favorite on the track in fifth place. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) started seventh, just ahead of the Audi duo of Stéphane Peterhansel and Ekstrom. Loeb followed in tenth.

The familiar image quickly emerged. The further back you went, the greater the advantage since the driver and passengers could orient themselves on the rails. Ekström in particular accelerated at the start. The Swede was leading the intermediate classification after 88 and 133 kilometers.

Sebastien Loeb

Sébastien Loeb puts pressure on Audi on New Year’s Day Zoom

But the Swede was pursued by Loeb. Before the last 90 kilometers, the Frenchman was only a minute behind in the virtual classification. Sainz and Al-Attiyah were also still in contention for the day’s win, around two minutes behind.

Among the big favourites, Peterhansel lost the most ground. After 277 kilometers he had already lost about nine minutes. It remained exciting up front until the finish and Sainz showed a strong final phase.

Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel lose time

After almost three hours and 20 minutes of riding, Sainz secured the victory of the day. At the bivouac, Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz jun. fingers crossed for his father. With a delay of only 23 seconds, Loeb had to admit defeat in second place by a hair.

Nasser Al-Attiyah

Al-Attiyah ended up slowing down for a better grid position tomorrow Zoom

Al-Attiyah was penalized for seven minutes. After all the penalties taken into account, he found himself in seventh place. Peterhansel followed in tenth position, almost nine minutes behind. Both have a theoretically advantageous starting position for Monday.

Dirk von Zitzewitz still in the lead

Local hero Yazeed Al-Rajhi and his German co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz had a great day. After receiving penalties, other riders moved up to third place that day. In the general classification, the duo is only two minutes behind leader Sainz.

Dirk von Zitzewitz

Co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz is the only German in the lead pack Zoom

“We entered the stage as the fourth car and exited as the second,” explained von Zitzewitz. “Teams with late starting positions definitely had an advantage as the track cleared out a bit. We crossed it without any problems. High speed without too much risk.”

Tomorrow we continue inland to Al’Ula. The second stage is 590 kilometres, with the timed section covering 431 kilometres. It crosses canyons, but the first dunes will decide this day.

Result of the 1st stage (Top 10):
01. Sainz/Cruz (Audi) – 3:20:41 a.m.
02. Loeb/Lurquin (Prodrive Hunter) +0:23 minutes
03. Al-Rajhi/Von Zitzewitz (Toyota) +1:59
04. Chicherit/Winocq (Prodrive Hunter) +2:04
05. Zala/Fiuza (Toyota) +5:28
06. Terranova/Harco Bravo (Prodrive Hunter) +6:59
07. Al-Attiyah/Baumel (Toyota) +7:19
08. Baragwanath/Cremer (century) +7:33
09. Przygonski/Monléon (Mini JCW Plus) +8:52
10. Peterhansel/Boulanger (Audi) +8:54

General classification after the 1st of the 14 stages (Top 10):
01. Sainz/Cruz (Audi) – 3:28:55 a.m.
02. Loeb/Lurquin (Prodrive Hunter) +0:10 minutes
03. Al-Rajhi/Von Zitzewitz (Toyota) +2:01
04. Chicherit/Winocq (Prodrive Hunter) +2:04
05. Terranova/Haro Bravo (Prodrive Fighter) +7:05
06. Al-Attiyah/Baumel (Toyota) +7:17
07. Baragwanath/Cremer (century) +7:51
08. Peterhansel/Boulanger (Audi) +8:51
09. Przygonski/Monléon (Mini JCW Plus) +8:54
10. Zala/Fiuza (Toyota) +10:57

#Dakar #Rally #Carlos #Sainz #wins #stage #ahead #Sébastien #Loeb

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