Loeb is already losing big!

Loeb is already losing big!

At the end of a first stage full of twists and turns, Ross Branch inherited the victory in the motorcycles after assisting Tosha Schareina, who was forced to retire after a fall. In the cars, Guillaume de Mevius defeated Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers when Sébastien Loeb and Nasser Al-Attiyah had already lost time.

The Dakar promised to be tough from the start, and it really was. Winner of the prologue contested this Friday around AlUla in the motorcycle category, Tosha Schareina saw his participation end after only 240 kilometers during the 1st stage, between AlUla and Al Henakiyah. Victim of a violent fall, the Spanish pilot first saw several of his opponents stop to help him and was transported to hospital, where a fracture of his left wrist was diagnosed. Joaquim Rodrigues, also forced to retire, and Michael Docherty were also on the ground. Over the 414 kilometers of special, it was first of all Mason Klein who took full advantage of opening the road to lead at full speed and take the six minutes of bonuses distributed throughout the course.

A performance which, however, proved insufficient to win the special and move to the top of the hierarchy. It was first of all Ricky Brabec who dislodged his compatriot from first position before the race direction applied the compensation linked to the various incidents that punctuated the day. Having stopped for 25 minutes to help Tosha Schareina, Ross Branch saw this time returned to him once the finish line was crossed. As a result, the driver from Botswana won with a little less than twelve minutes ahead of Ricky Brabec, who was ahead of Mason Klein by 25 seconds. On the French side, while Adrien van Beveren had a complicated day with a 12th place 21 minutes behind, Romain Dumortier took a nice sixth place just over fourteen minutes behind the winner.

Ranking of the 1st stage (motorcycle) – Saturday January 6, 2024
1- Ross Branch (BOT/Hero) en 4h56’01’’
2- Ricky Brabec (USA/Honda) à 10’54”
3- Mason Klein (USA/Kove) at 11’19”
4- Bradley Cox (AFS/KTM) from 12’54”
5- Juan Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHI/Honda) at 13’43”
6- Romain Dumortier (FRA/Husqvarna) at 14’06”

De Mevius narrowly wins in the car category

In the car category, the suspense was total on the track. While Mattias Ekström rode on his success during the prologue to open the road and take the lead, the Audi driver gradually fell back in the hierarchy on the second part of the course to set the 10th time of the day. William of Mevius experienced an opposite trajectory. Oscillating for a long time between third and fourth throughout the checkpoints, the Belgian finished like a cannonball to set the scratch time on this first special of the 2024 edition of the Dakar. At the wheel of his Toyota, the driver of the Overdrive Racing team was ahead of Carlos Sainz, who is floating within the Audi team, on the line by a little over two minutes when Giniel de Villiers finished third but conceded a little more than nine minutes to the winner of the day.

A first special which will leave a bitter taste for certain candidates for final victory. At the wheel of his Hunter from the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, Sébastien Loeb could not do better than 20th place, almost 23 minutes behind Guillaume de Mevius. Winner of the last two editions of the rally-raid, Nasser Al-Attiyah will have to deal with a major handicap after these 414 kilometers of special. The Qatari driver is closely following the Habs but is already close to 25 minutes behind when Stéphane Peterhansel lost more than half an hour at the wheel of his Audi. However, with the route concocted by the organizers throughout the two weeks of racing, nothing can be taken for granted before the conclusion of the event.

Ranking of the 1st stage (auto) – Saturday January 6, 2024
1- William of Mevius – Xavier Panseri (BEL-FROM/Toyota) en 4h25’59”
2- Carlos Sainz – Lucas Cruz (ESP-ESP/Audi) at 1’44”
3- Giniel de Villiers – Dennis Murphy (AFS-AFS/Toyota) at 9’18”
4- Vaidotas Zala – Paulo Fiuza (LET-POR/Mini) at 10’42”
5- Romain Dumas – Max Delfino (FRA-FRA/Toyota) at 12’18”

20- Sébastien Loeb – Fabian Lurquin (FROM-BEL/BRX Hunter) at 22’47”

22- Nasser Al-Attiyah – Mathieu Baumel (QAT-FROM/BRX Hunter) at 24’47”

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