Day one of the 2019 Dakar Rally is done. The opening stage 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 ridershad 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. It was Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda who set the stopwatches buzzing on the opening stage by putting a significant distance between himself and his closest rival Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla.
Barreda leads Quintanilla by 1m34s with American Ricky Brabec making a strong start just under 3 minutes behind his Honda teammate. Yamaha Rally’s Adrien van Beveren sits fourth, with the KTM Factory trio of Sam Sundeland, Toby Price and reigning Dakar Champion Matthias Walkner filling the next three stops.
Joan Barreda: “I’m very happy to start like this. Today was a short stage but where everyone went very fast. Without making mistakes I managed to push for the whole of the special. In the beginning it’s always a bit difficult to pick up the rhythm, but from kilometre 20 I started to improve and I was able to maintain a good rhythm during the whole stage with very good results.
“Now it’s time to think about the long stages where the way of preparing them changes. Tomorrow we will have to stay focused, since the pace will also be high and there is more chance of getting lost.”
Pablo Quintanilla: “I felt really good on the bike today. It wasn’t an easy stage. There were some sandy dunes, some dusty parts and some tricky navigation. I was pushing from the start and I felt confident all the way through the stage. It’s good to start this race with a second place and it gives me extra confidence for the rest of the rally.
“Today we had many waypoints to cross and many direction changes. It was good to get things started with the first stage. This year I am feeling very confident and I am enjoying the race a lot. The bike is running great and I am looking forward to the coming stages.”
Ricky Brabec: “First stage of this Dakar with some very good sensations. The stage was not very long, but there were many dunes and a lot of people. I have found the whole special went pretty well: there was a bit of fesh-fesh but I’m very happy to be here and am prepared to give it my best shot over the coming days.”
Race Schedule Dakar Rally 2019
Stage 1: Jan 7, Lima to Pisco, Special Stage: 84km, Total: 331km
Stage 2: Jan 8, Pisco to San Juan de Marcona, SS: 342km, Total: 554km
Stage 3: Jan 9, San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, SS: 331km, Total: 779km
Stage 4: Jan 10, Arequipa to Moquegua, SS: 352km, Total: 511km
Stage 5: Jan 11, Moquegua to Arequipa, SS: 345km,Total: 776km
Rest Day: Jan 12, Arequipa
Stage 6: Jan 13, Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona, SS: 317km,Total: 839km
Stage 7: Jan 14, San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona, SS: 323km, Total: 387km
Stage 8: Jan 15, San Juan de Marcona to Pisco, SS: 361km, Total: 576km
Stage 9: Jan 16, Pisco to Pisco, SS: 313km, Total: 410km
Stage 10: Jan 17, Pisco to Lima,SS: 112km, Total: 358km