Spain’s Barreda grabs early lead in Dakar moto race
Spanish motorcycle rider Joan Barreda, with Team Honda, on Monday won the first stage of the Dakar 2019 Rally, the shortest leg in this year’s race, while - in automobiles - Spain’s Carlos Sainz, the reigning champion driving for Mini, came in second behind Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, with Toyota.
Barreda ran the race almost neck and neck with Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) until the middle of the leg, when he managed to pull out in front and develop a 1 minute 34 second lead by the end of the 311 kilometers (193 miles) of desert between Lima and Pisco, 84 km of which were timed.
The Spaniard, who is participating in the Rally for the ninth time, thus put down his marker to win the contest after entering this year’s competition in better shape than last year, when he raced “with two broken bones” that ultimately forced him to drop out.
In autos, Sainz was first on the road in the staggered starts but by the middle of the leg had been overtaken by Al-Attiyah, who - just like last year - won the Rally’s initial leg.
The Qatari pilot said that he stayed behind Sainz during the final kilometers until near the end he passed the Spaniard to gain a 1m59s advantage.
Al-Attiyah secured a win that practically no other driver wanted, since the one who wins the initial leg must race first among the rest of the Dakar group on the second leg, which will be held on Tuesday between Pisco and San Juan de Marcona, a 554-km run.
That means that the Toyota driver will go into a pristine desert without any tracks to follow across the wasteland, and thus the risk of becoming disoriented and losing time is very real.
In quads, the win on Monday went to Argentine Nicolas Cavigliasso, confirming him as one of the big favorites to succeed Chile’s Ignacio Casale, the latest champion in the category, and to emulate countrymen Marcos and Alejandro Patronelli, who between them have five titles.
Dakar 2019 is the first edition of the Rally to be held in just one country, with 10 legs to be run in the Peruvian desert between Jan. 7-17.