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The first full stage of the Dakar 2022 rally saw Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah ease his way to victory while Aussie GasGas factory rider Daniel Sanders took the first full stage by over 2 minutes.
The first full stage of the 2022 edition of the Dakar Rally saw Daniel Sanders who won the prologue yesterday by a minute extend his advantage over Honda rider Pablo Quintanilla. Sanders got to choose his starting position due to his win yesterday and the GasGas rider took full advantage by heading out after 14 riders had already put their tyre marks on the sand.
Sanders put his foot down from the start and by around the halfway mark had opened up a 46-second gap over his Honda rival. Despite Quintanilla's attempts to fight back, Sanders won the 333-kilometre long stage by 2 minutes and seven seconds. Sanders lead now stands at 3 minutes and 7 seconds over Quintanilla.
The third spot was claimed by Matthias Walkner from the KTM team, who attacked the stage and managed to climb up two places into podium contention. Walkner lies 11 minutes and 6 seconds adrift of Sanders.
There was good news for Indian motorcycle brands TVS and Hero. TVS Sherco rider Lorenzo Santolino finished the stage in fifth and is now ranked 7th overall, 16 minutes and 54 seconds behind Sanders. Indian rider Harith Noah finished 34th in the first full stage of the Dakar and now lies 39th overall. TVS Sherco's final rider Rui Goncalves finished 70th and now lies 124th in the overall rankings.
Hero's top-ranked rider was Aaron Mare, who replaced the injured Franco Caimi. Mare finished 11th in the first full stage of Dakar 2022. Mare's teammate Joaquim Rodrigues, finished 30th. Mare now lies 19th overall, while Rodrigues is 37th.
Former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci flexed his offroading muscles finishing 13th. Petrucci now lies 12th overall on his Tech3 KTM Rally bike and is currently riding three places ahead of factory KTM rider and defending champion Kevin Benavedes.
The first full stage of Dakar 2022, saw favourite Nasser Al-Attiyah ease his way to victory, finishing the 333-kilometre stage over 13 minutes ahead of his nearest rival, 8-time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb. Al-Attiyah in his Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux was initially put under a lot of pressure by Audi's electric RS Q e-tron challengers.
Nearly halfway into the stage, Al-Attiyah's lead was in the single digits but then disaster struck for the German team with the lead chasing Audi of Stephane Peterhansel suffered an accident that broke the rear axle of his car. Peterhansel had to call for help and is now effectively out of the race this year over as he now lies over 7 and half hours behind the Qatari Toyota driver.
Peterhansel's teammate Carlos Sainz, also did not have a good day as he lost over two hours searching for a tricky waypoint. The final Audi of Mattias Ekstrom also had a tricky day but ended up the lead car for the German brand finishing in 34th spot. Ekstrom is over an hour and a half behind Al-Attaiyah.
Taking advantage of Audi's misfortune was Sebastian Loeb in his Bahrain Raid Xtreme. Loeb managed to keep Al-Attaiyah lead down to just over 12 minutes while also opening up a sizeable gap over those behind him. Overall, Loeb lies over 13 minutes behind the Qatari. The final podium spot was claimed by Martin Prokop, who finished over 10 minutes behind Loeb.
Thoughts On the first full stage of Dakar 2022
Dakar 2022's first full stage did not disappoint. The moving sands of the Saudi desert spooked many a driver and rider as was seen in the misfortunes suffered by the Audi team. Both TVS and Hero had good days in the moving dunes which should hopefully translate into a good overall finish for both riders and the teams.