The ‘Matador’ was second in the first stage of the competition after the 19-kilometer prologue, with Al-Attiyah at the fore
With almost no time to digest the change of the year, the Dakar 2022 began this January 1 with the first 19 kilometers of competition, in a short prologue that had an ‘eternal’ link of 595. Between Jeddah, the central capital of propaganda Saudi facing the West, and Ha’il, the competitors were already released with some pressure, aware that the regulations that the organization has established required to finish among the first yes or yes.
To avoid that the first day of action in this raid was considered little more than a formality, the FIA (which has given Cross-Country category of World Championship, starting in the Dakar), established that the first ten in cars and the fifteen The first on motorcycles were going to be able to choose the starting position for stage 1 in reverse order: the first this Saturday will be the last to choose in which position they will start on Sunday. At the same time, the times of each competitor have also been multiplied by five, to give more weight to the result of this prologue for the competition. Thus, some drivers saw how finishing outside the ‘top 10-15’ was much worse than expected and others, on the other hand, having an early start was very good for them.
In this way, the first half of Nasser Al-Attiyah with twelve seconds of advantage over Carlos Sainz should be read with some tranquility. Although nothing suggests that the Qatari will not be one of the strongest candidates (already in 2021 he won six stages and was on the verge of winning the title in Riyadh), what has been seen in these first kilometers of competition has been demonstrative that it won’t give an inch. Although the result of this prologue is still relatively anecdotal, it did make it clear that the ‘Matador’ is not going to let the challenge with the electric car prevent him from getting the best of himself. “Although this first section was short, I am happy to make this special car debut,” said the Madrilenian, who left only 12 seconds on the finish line with Al-Attiyah.
It was also a special day for Nani Roma, a firm option for Spanish success in this Dakar. The Catalan took his Hunter to the seventh position of the day, with scare included. “At first my door opened, but that only made us lose two seconds. Afterwards, we drove at a pace that seemed appropriate for the stage and how we felt in the car. Maybe we could have gone a little faster, but the rally really starts tomorrow, “he said about the day this Sunday, which will be the first serious day of competition.
This prologue was a historic day for Laia Sanz. The multi-time Trail World Champion completed her first stage of the Dakar in cars, 2:40 behind Al-Attiyah.
Sanders rules on motorcycles and explosion in a hotel
Parallel to the car dispute, the motorcycle dispute took place, where Daniel Sanders gave the first blow to the table. The Australian, who gave the first Dakar victory in its history to GasGas (who is practically a son of KTM), showed that on two wheels it will be a dog-face fight with extreme equality between the candidates for success.
Proof of this is that the best Spaniard was Joan Barreda, who despite finishing tenth at Ha’il, did so after just three minutes (with the time multiplier already included). It is an advantageous position to choose a starting point, as ‘Bang-Bang’ hopes that this will be their Dakar, at last. Lorenzo Santolino, another of the great national options, was twenty-first on the day more than six minutes away, although the man from Salamanca is one of those to come back from behind.
Despite being a presumably quiet day, the day had a scare. The organization reported an explosion of unconfirmed origin in one of the organization’s cars. It is unknown if it was an explosive device intentionally placed there or it was the result of an accident, but of the six crew members of the vehicle, one of them was a competitor who suffered serious injuries and had to be evacuated to France.