- Sainz wins, ahead of Peterhansel
- Sainz and Peterhansel lead the overall standings
Today’s opening leg was dominated by the three-way battle for the stage win between Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Vaidotas Zala. Zala led up to the 71-kilometre mark in his MINI JCW Rally, but then dropped back through the field and eventually ended the first stage in 36th place. The lead then changed hands several times between team-mates Sainz and Peterhansel, with Sainz just having the upper hand and finishing 25 seconds ahead of Peterhansel. Argentineans Orlando Terranova and Ronnie Graue came home 18th in the MINI JCW Rally – after a good start into the stage but unfortunately three punctures. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) and Dmitry Tsyro (UKR) ended the stage in 27th place in a MINI JCW Rally, three positions ahead of Brazilians Guiga Spinelli and Youssef Haddad in their MINI ALL4 Racing.
Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz (ESP) soon forgot about yesterday’s misfortune. 28th onto the opening leg, they were flying in the MINI JCW Buggy and soon took the lead. They went on to take victory on day one after a close battle with team-mate Peterhansel. Sainz now tops the overall standings with an eight-second lead over Peterhansel.
Carlos Sainz: “I am pleased with the stage win. They are always nice. The fact we started with a three minutes gap meant that I did not have to overtake too many cars, so I didn’t lose much time. Today’s stage was very tough and it was easy to pick up a puncture. That did happen to us, and then we went the wrong way later on. We lost about four minutes in the process, but navigation was very difficult at that point.”
Stéphane Peterhansel: “The leg was more difficult than we expected. I thought it would be really easy, for me and the navigation. But it was quite the opposite: there were a lot of stones and sandy, narrow sections with trees. Shortly before the end we had a flat tire and lost some time. Navigation was a real challenge and we were fortunate not to start so far up the order. The MINI JCW Buggy was superb.”
Vladimir Vasilyev: “We got a bit lost in the beginning of the stage, but it is ok, almost anybody made a mistake there. Two times the hood went off. We made some special adjustments to fix it. The adventures continued with a flat tire. The stage was very similar to Morocco – the track went through stone and sand riverbeds, a lot of stones.”
Tomorrow’s leg takes the competitors to Wadi Ad-Dawasir. During the 457-kilometre stage, the drivers will encounter the first dunes of this year’s rally, which start around the 30-kilometre mark. As well as this, they will also have to master off-track and sandy sections.
1. C. Sainz /ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) – MINI JCW Buggy – 3h 05m 56s
2. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA) – MINI JCW Buggy – 3h 06m 21s
3. M. Prokop (CZE) / V. Chytka (CZE) – Ford – 3h 09m 14s
4. M. Serradori (FRA) / F. Lurquin (BEL) – Century – 3h 12m 29s
5. Y. Seaidan (KSA) / Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) – Century – 3h 14m 06s
18. O. Terranova (ARG) / R. Graue (ARG) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 28m 53s
27. V. Vasilyev (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 35m 09s
30. G. Spinelli (BRA) / Y. Haddad (BRA) – MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 42m 29s
35. V. Khoroshavtsev (RUS) / A. Nikolaev (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 49m 51
36. V. Zala (LTU) / P. Fiuza (POR) – MINI JCW Rally – 4h 07m 04s
51. D. Krotov RUS) / O. Uperenko (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 4h 23m 54s
Overall standings after SS1
1. C. Sainz /ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) – MINI JCW Buggy – 3h 12m 20s
2. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / E. Boulanger (FRA) – MINI JCW Buggy – 3h 12m 28s
3. M. Prokop (CZE) / V. Chytka (CZE) – Ford – 3h 15m 19s
4. M. Serradori (FRA) / F. Lurquin (BEL) – Century – 3h 18m 33s
5. Y. Seaidan (KSA) / Alexey Kuzmich (RUS) – Century – 3h 20m 13s
18. O. Terranova (ARG) / R. Graue (ARG) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 34m 55s
25. V. Vasilyev (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 41m 14s
28. G. Spinelli (BRA) / Y. Haddad (BRA) – MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 48m 48s
34. V. Zala (LTU) / P. Fiuza (POR) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 56m 20s
35. V. Khoroshavtsev (RUS) / A. Nikolaev (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 3h 56m 48s
51. D. Krotov RUS) / O. Uperenko (RUS) – MINI JCW Rally – 4h 30m 12s
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