BRUTAL STAGE ONE FOR DAKAR RALLY

After winning the prologue, America Ricky Brabec suffered through a difficult day one of Dakar 2021, eventually finishing in 27th place, 18 minutes behind stage winner Toby Price.  The rally got off to a tough start with a 623-kilometer stage – including 277 kilometers against the clock – which turned out to be both highly-technical and navigationally complex. After setting off from Jeddah this morning, riders faced a long 311-kilometre liaison section on asphalt before reaching the start of the timed special, which, contrary to what had been announced in last night’s briefing, turned out to be a very slow one. Cumbersome, broken, stony and zigzagging pistes severely reduced the average speeds of the stage. Navigation proved tricky on a deceptive route that took in several dry river crossings. The special stage ended 35 kilometers away from the new bivouac located in Bisha.

Price: “Overall, the day has gone well. Navigation was certainly tricky today – it was hard to find the right pistes and valleys and annoyingly I managed to get lost a little bit on the last few kilometers to the finish. Other than a few other little mistakes, the rest of the stage was good. I’m happy with how I looked after the bike and the tires because with the new rules we really have to be careful. Looking ahead at the whole race, I think there are going to be some big swings in the standings – the plan is to try and stay consistent and not lose too much time. I’m opening tomorrow so hopefully I won’t make too many big mistakes and we can keep this momentum going.”

Top American for the day was Skyler Howes, who now sits in 8th place, 5 minutes behind the leader.  “I had a fun time on the bike and felt pretty comfortable! Some really fun sections and then a lot of rocks.  I started in a good position today but still had a few brain fades with the navigation that cost some time but overall it was a good day. Just going to keep having fun.”

Andrew Short opted for a cautious approach on stage one of the 2021 Dakar Rally. With a new for 2021 rule that allows elite riders just six rear tires for the entire event, the American rode conservatively throughout the rocky stage with tomorrow’s sandier conditions very much on his mind. Nevertheless, his 12th place finish marked a strong start to the event with Andrew happy to be back racing his Yamaha WR450F Rally machine. “Today’s stage was pretty good for me. It’s great to be back racing and we were straight into it with some tricky navigation from the start. The stage was really rocky, and I was maybe a little conservative as we only have six rear tyres to use throughout the event. This may have cost me some time, but it might work out better for me for tomorrow. I’m about eight minutes down on the leader but it’s only day one and a long way to go. I’m happy with how the rally has started for me and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Ricky Brabec is still optimistic: “We won the prologue, but unfortunately, it hit us hard. We opened today and it wasn’t really as easy as we were expecting. The other guys started back and they dealt their cards a little bit better than we did. We didn’t really sit back in the prologue which led us up to the front. Stage one was difficult to navigate. It wasn’t fast. There were tons of rocks and slower speeds. I was trying to manage the rear tyre as we have to go more than one day on this tyre. I wasn’t sure of the speed and some of the other guys were on the gas a little bit harder. Hopefully in the end it’ll all pay off but, as of now, it’s only the first day and we have eleven left. Tomorrow we’ll start a bit further back with sand dunes and sand piste. Hopefully we can push up and make some time back.”

 

1 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 03:18’26
2 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +0:00’31
3 WALKNER Matthias 52 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +00:00’32
4 SUNDERLAND Sam 5 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +00:02’03
5 SANTOLINO Lorenzo 15 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +00:04’23
6 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier 12 FRA HT Husqvarna Rally Team Husqvarna +00:04’35
7 CAIMI Franco 6 ARG Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team Yamaha +00:04’48
8 HOWES Skyler 9 USA BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM KTM +00:05’25
9 BENAVIDES Luciano 77 ARG Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +00:07’37
10 MICHEK Martin 31 CZE Orion Moto Racing Group KTM +00:08’01

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