Aussies Toby Price and Rod Faggotter kicked off solidly as the opening stage of the 41st Dakar Rally took competitors from the host city of Lima to Pisco, near the southern coast of Peru. Although short at just 84 kilometres, the day’s timed special still threw up a few challenges. Starting in reverse order, the top riders would have to wait until last to get their chance to enter the stage. Dust thrown up from the riders in front made overtaking difficult with the Peruvian heat also making conditions tough.
Putting in a brave performance, just 12 seconds down on Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Sunderland, Toby Price successfully completed the stage despite nursing the wrist he broke just weeks beforehand. Aware of the task ahead of him, Price plans to take the rally day-by-day.
Toby Price: “The first day has gone well. My wrist is giving me some pain so I know the next nine days are going to be tough. But I can’t complain, I’m happy with sixth place today. Conditions out there were ok, you just have to be careful in the dunes that you don’t send it off one of the big drops – I can’t afford to risk anything like that so I need to be a little careful. The bike is running sweet, so thanks to Joe my mechanic for that. It’s going to be a long one tomorrow but I’ll give it my best.”
Highly experienced Yamaha rider Rodney Faggotter took his time to settle in and wrapped up the opening stage with a 29th place result. Enjoying a good feeling aboard the latest version of the WR450F Rally, the Aussie looks to continue building on his speed during the coming stages.
"Overall, I had a good day. I kept a steady pace from start to finish of the timed special and brought my bike home without any issues. My goal for the start of this race is to be consistent and remain inside the top 30 in the first stages. Today we raced about 70% of dunes and a long, dry and dusty river bed. Especially in that river bed you had to be extra careful to avoid mistakes. So far so good and now my eyes are set on tomorrow's tough stage."
Stage two of the 2019 Dakar Rally leaves Pisco and heads for San Juan de Marcona. The total stage distance is 553 kilometres including a tough 342-kilometre timed special. The cars will open the stage, which may ease navigation for the bike class but will invariably make the route a lot rougher to ride.
Provisional Results Stage One – 2019 Dakar Rally
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 57:00
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 59:10 +1:34
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 1:00:28 +2:52
4. Adrien van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 1:00:31 +2:55
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 1:00:32 +2:56
6. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:00:44 +3:08
29. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 01:09:03, +11:27