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Motorsport | Dakar Rally

Carlos Sainz © Reuters Images

Sainz claims Dakar opener

Former champion Carlos Sainz opened his campaign for a second Dakar Rally title by taking the opening 13km special stage from Lima to Pisco on Saturday.

The Spaniard, who won the gruelling race in 2010 in a Volkswagen, drove his Buggy to victory in a time of 7min 40sec, beating Argentina's Lucio Alvarez, in a Toyota, into second, with French driver Guerlain Chicherit, in an SMG, claiming third.

Sainz enjoyed an eight-second advantage over Alvarez and a 10-second gap on Chicherit.

His Qatari teammate, Nasser al-Attiyah, who was the 2011 champion, also in a Volkswagen, but was forced to retire in a Hummer 12 months ago, finished fourth.

The two Buggys, backed by the financial might of Qatar but prepared in California, gave an early glimpse of their strengths.

That was bad news for defending champion Stephane Peterhansel whose bid for an 11th Dakar title after collecting four wins in the auto section and six on two wheels got off to a disappointing start.

French driver Peterhansel was down in sixth place in his Mini, 34sec behind Sainz.

America's Robby Gordon, who was fifth last year after coming close to a disqualification, was in 87th place in his Hummer after experiencing trouble with his vehicle's GPS.

Chile's Francisco Lopez, riding a KTM, won the opening motorcycling stage.

Dutchman Frans Verhoeven, on a Yamaha, was second, with another Chilean, Pablo Quintanilla, claiming third place for Honda who are making their Dakar return after a 24-year absence.

Lopez covered the 13km stage in 7min 51sec, with Verhoeven a second further back and Quintanilla five seconds off the pace.

French rider Cyril Despres, the defending champion, was in fifth place, 13sec behind Lopez.

In all, 449 vehicles (183 motos, 153 autos, 38 quads and 75 lorries), left the starting line on Saturday.

Sunday's second stage is a 327km (242km timed) stage in and around Pisco.

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1. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Buggy) 7 min 40 sec
2. Lucio Alvarez (ARG/Toyota) at 8
3. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA/SMG) 10
4. Nasser al-Attiyah (QAT/Buggy) 10
5. Ronan Chabot (FRA/SMG) 12
6. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL/Mini) 34
7. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/Mini) 34
8. Stephane Peterhansel (SUI/Mini) 34
9. Giniel De Villiers (RSA/Toyota) 35
10. Nani Roma (ESP/Mini) 37
13. Duncan Vos (RSA/Toyota) 44
141. Johan Van Staden (RSA/Prodakar Mcrae) 14:11


1. Francisco Lopez (CHI/KTM) 7 min 51 sec
2. Frans Verhoeven (NED/Yamaha) at 1
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/Honda) 5
4. Patricio Cabrera (CHI/Kawasaki) 11
5. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 13
6. David Casteu (FRA/Yamaha) 15
7. Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) 19
8. Javier Pizzolito (ARG/Honda) 21
9. Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) 26
10. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Husqvarna) 29
15. Riaan van Niekerk (RSA/KTM) 2:45
25. Darryl Curtis (RSA/KTM) 3:55
103. Brett Cummings (RSA/Honda) 12:40
170. Glen Grundy (RSA/Honda) 25:35


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