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.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

Motorcycles line up for the podium in Jeddah. Image: ASO

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.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

Ricky Brabec came out swinging. Image: ASO

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.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

Vaidotas Zala and Saulius Jurgelenas claims historic stage win. Image: Nuotykiu Fabrikas

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.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

Price faced a torn roadbook during Stage 1. Image: ASO

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”.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

Laia Sanz commented that the navigation required intense focus. Image: ASO

Today, the rankings in the motorcycle class are as follows:

POS. EXP. DRIVE-TEAM MARK-MODEL TIME VARIATION PENALITY
1 1 RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM 03H 21′ 33” 00H 02′ 00”
2 9 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020 03H 21′ 38” + 00H 00′ 05”
3 2 RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM 03H 22′ 13” + 00H 00′ 40”
4 7 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020 03H 24′ 04” + 00H 02′ 31”
5 3 RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM 03H 24′ 48” + 00H 03′ 15”
6 5 ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING 03H 25′ 09” + 00H 03′ 36”
7 12 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020 03H 27′ 24” + 00H 05′ 51”
8 16 RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM 03H 28′ 29” + 00H 06′ 56”
9 6 ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING 03H 28′ 36” + 00H 07′ 03”
10 4 MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM 03H 29′ 25” + 00H 07′ 52”
11 17 MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2020 03H 29′ 48” + 00H 08′ 15”
12 8 HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY 03H 29′ 50” + 00H 08′ 17”
13 10 MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM 03H 30′ 15” + 00H 08′ 42”
14 18 BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM 03H 30′ 31” + 00H 08′ 58”
15 11 SHERCO TVS RALLY FACTORY 03H 32′ 35” + 00H 11′ 02”
16 21 TEAM HONDA NOSIGLIA 03H 33′ 45” + 00H 12′ 12”
17 22 MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM 03H 35′ 36” + 00H 14′ 03”
18 59 KLYMCIW RACING 03H 39′ 22” + 00H 17′ 49”
19 19 SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM 03H 41′ 40” + 00H 20′ 07”
20 14 GAS GAS FACTORY TEAM 03H 43′ 18” + 00H 21′ 45”

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.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

The Dakar podium in Jeddah attracted fewer spectators than Lima in 2019. Image: Nuotykiu Fabrikas

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.

Dakar 2020: Stage 1 Full of Surprises and Tricky Navigation ADV Rider

Die-hard fans at the start line of Stage 1. Image: Nuotykiu fabrikas

Follow the race on: RedBull TVDakar News 

Images: ASO, Nuotykiu Fabrikas

 

 

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