As you might have heard, the greatest race on earth started last weekend. Dakar continued it’s 35 year legacy (the fifth in South America) on Sunday with an opening stage in Lima Peru.
Hit the jump for some official video and a cursory American biased overview of the first three stages.
Stage 1 Lima-Pisco
The usual cast of characters left the start line and the first 15km of racing were pretty uneventful. As is tradition the American precense in the Dakar is pretty minimal. The always entertaining, Robby Gordon is back in his SPEED Energy /Toyo Tires / MAPEI HUMMER (say that a few times fast) and 11 time Baja winner Johnny Campbell is making his Dakar motorcycle debut, riding for the Honda team. Another interesting American connection are the buggies of Sainz and Al-Attiyah are American modified built Jefferies chassis (I’m not sure of the powerplant I’ll have to do a little more research).
Stage 2 Pisco-Pisco
The first real day of racing and it was a true Dakar stage. Many of the major players had navigation troubles in the dunes. Robby Gordon had navigation issues and some mechanical problems, losing something like 49 minutes to the rally leader, Peterhansel and his MINI.
Stage 3 Pisco-Nazca
No Video yet but the results are up. Lopez, the South American darling of Dakar, took the stage win for the bikes and continues his typical early race charge, leading pre-race favorite, Depres, by just over four minutes. Let’s hope he can keep up the pressure on Despres and make it an epic race.
Al-Attiyah topped the cars for the day with Robby Gordon trailing by 1:18. Peterhansel came in third to retain the overall top spot.
Unfortunately, Johnny Campbell finished well down the order, nearly last actually, proving once again that Dakar is an incomparable challenge. Hopefully, Campbell’s slow pace was a navigation error or a mechanical failure and not a big crash.