Rally Dakar 2020 kicked off today with a brutal 319km special stage from Jeddah to Al Wahj, with motorcycles starting first which meant a 3am start for some of the riders. Tricky navigation and long sections of rough terrain littered with sharp rocks proved to be a challenge for motorcycles, cars, quads, and SSVs alike.
Toby Price won the first special stage, chased closely by Ricky Brabec and Matthias Walkner. Andrew Short came in 9th, and Adrien van Beveren closed the top ten of the special stage. In the malle moto, now Original by Motul, class, Romanian Emanuel Geynes claimed the first stage win.
In the car category, Lithuanians Vaidotas Zala and Saulius Jurgelenas claimed a historic victory: the Agrorodeo team won the first special stage leaving Stephan Peterhansel, Mister Dakar himself, behind.
Navigation and Terrain
Tire punctures and destroyed wheels on the rocky sections cost several riders and car drivers precious time. Navigation during the first stage proved to be tricky, too. Toby Price has commented that his roadbook tore in half and he was forced to follow teammate Matthias Walkner for a large portion of the stage. “Something broke, it was getting the roadbook locked up, I couldn’t roll my notes around, was getting quite frustrated with that,” Price said.
Laia Sanz who came in 20th after the first special stage released a video where she said, “the navigation was very involved, you really had to stay very focused during the whole stage”.
Today, the rankings in the motorcycle class are as follows:
|1||1||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||03H 21′ 33”|
|2||9||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020||03H 21′ 38”|
|3||2||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||03H 22′ 13”|
|4||7||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020||03H 24′ 04”|
|5||3||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||03H 24′ 48”|
|6||5||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||03H 25′ 09”|
|7||12||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020||03H 27′ 24”|
|8||16||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||03H 28′ 29”|
|9||6||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||03H 28′ 36”|
|10||4||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||03H 29′ 25”|
|11||17||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020||03H 29′ 48”|
|12||8||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||03H 29′ 50”|
|13||10||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||03H 30′ 15”|
|14||18||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||03H 30′ 31”|
|15||11||SHERCO TVS RALLY FACTORY||03H 32′ 35”|
|16||21||TEAM HONDA NOSIGLIA||03H 33′ 45”|
|17||22||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||03H 35′ 36”|
|18||59||KLYMCIW RACING||03H 39′ 22”|
|19||19||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||03H 41′ 40”|
|20||14||GAS GAS FACTORY TEAM||03H 43′ 18”|
Prayer Breaks and Sparse Spectators
Several Dakar racers have remarked that the vibe in Saudi Arabia is very different from that in Peru. “I guess the starkest contrast is that there are barely any spectators around. In Lima, the podium was surrounded by a huge crowd of fans. Here in Jeddah, there were barely any spectators”, Arunas Gelazninkas, a Lithuanian motorcycle pilot, commented. The podium day on January 4th included three prayer breaks, something that hasn’t been a part of the Rally Dakar start yet.
Media crews seem to be facing challenges of their own – unreliable WiFi connection and sometimes chaotic organization is making life a little more difficult this year. However, perhaps these are just a few glitches of the first day.