Nasser Al-Attiyah of Toyota won Saturday’s Prologue for the 2022 Dakar Rally in the cars category, while GasGas rider Daniel Sanders set the pace in the bikes class in only his second outing.
Al-Attiyah completed the 19km Prologue segment between Jeddah and Ha’il in 10m56s, kicking off his campaign to win the Dakar for a fourth time on terrain identical to that which the participants will face in the first week of the rally-raid.
Three-time Dakar champion Carlos Sainz finished second, just 12 seconds behind the Qatari driver, in a promising start for Audi’s electric RS Q e-tron competitor.
While Sainz was able to demonstrate the new Audi’s raw speed on the first day of the rally, his colleagues fared less well, with 14-time winner Stephane Peterhansel finishing 14th and Mattias Ekstrom finishing 15th.
Century Racing’s Brian Baragwanath finished third, ahead of Toyota’s Henk Lategan and WRC icon Sebastien Loeb.
Following his separation with long-time navigator Daniel Elena, new co-driver Fabian Lurquin set a time of 11m33s in the heavily-revised Bahrain Raid Xtreme BRX Hunter T1+ developed by Prodrive.
Yazeed Al-Rajhi, a local driver, finished sixth in an Overdrive Toyota, almost two seconds ahead of 2014 winner Nani Roma’s second BRX vehicle.
Giniel de Villiers, a factory Toyota driver who was on the verge of missing the rally due to a positive COVID-19 test earlier in the year, came in ninth, ahead of Jakub Przygonski and his Orlen-sponsored Mini buggy.
With a time of 11m57s, Orlando Terranova ensured that all three Prodrive cars finished in the top ten.
The X-raid Mini squad did not have a single finisher inside the top 15, with Yasir Seaidan finishing 17th. Both of its previous star drivers had left for Audi.
Laia Sanz, an ex-KTM rider who inked a deal with X-raid to drive a Mini All4 Racing, was tentatively rated 43rd in her debut Dakar appearance in the vehicles category.
The top 10 finishers will get to choose their starting position for the 334km special stage on Sunday after the 595km liaison to Ha’il, with Al-Attiyah having the last say on his starting place.
In the motorcycles category, last year’s top rookie Sanders led new Honda recruit Pablo Quintanilla for the KTM-owned GasGas label.
Sanders officially finished the Prologue in 55m30s, nearly a minute ahead of his nearest challenger Quintanilla, with the finishing times multiplied by a factor of five to avoid dangerous strategies.
Ross Branch placed Yamaha third at the end of stage 1A, five seconds ahead of the top KTM of reigning champion Kevin Benavides, a year after the Japanese manufacturer’s catastrophic 2021 campaign. Benavides was fourth, ahead his teammate Matthias Walkner and Adrien van Beveren’s second Yamaha.
On the second GasGas, 2017 winner Sam Sunderland finished seventh, 15 seconds behind KTM’s star rider Toby Price, who is returning to the Dakar after missing last year’s event due to a fractured collarbone.
Honda’s Joan Barreda and Yamaha’s Andrew Short finished ninth and tenth, just ahead of leading Hero rider Joaquim Rodrigues and 2020 Dakar winner Ricky Brabec (Honda).
Former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci, making his Dakar debut in the colors of Tech 3 KTM, finished the day 23rd fastest with a timing of 1hr03m00s, little over eight minutes behind leader Sanders.
The top 15 riders from the Prologue will convene at 19:00 local time in Hai’il to determine their starting positions for the first full stage. The winner will have the last say in which place he will begin.
DAKAR Rally Prologue Cars classification – Top 10
|1||201||AL-ATTIYAH NASSERBAUMEL MATTHIEU||TOYOTA||00:10:56||00:00:00|
|2||202||SAINZ CARLOSCRUZ LUCAS||AUDI||00:11:08||+00:00:12||00:00:00|
|3||230||BARAGWANATH BRIANCREMER LEONARD||CENTURY||00:11:32||+00:00:36||00:00:00|
|4||225||LATEGAN HENKCUMMINGS BRETT||TOYOTA||00:11:32||+00:00:36||00:00:00|
|5||211||LOEB SEBASTIENLURQUIN FABIAN||PRODRIVE||00:11:33||+00:00:37||00:00:00|
|6||205||AL RAJHI YAZEEDORR MICHAEL||TOYOTA||00:11:43||+00:00:47||00:00:00|
|7||204||ROMA NANIHARO BRAVO ALEX||PRODRIVE||00:11:45||+00:00:49||00:00:00|
|8||207||DE VILLIERS GINIELMURPHY DENNIS||TOYOTA||00:11:46||+00:00:50||00:00:00|
|9||203||PRZYGONSKI JAKUBGOTTSCHALK TIMO||MINI||00:11:57||+00:01:01||00:00:00|
|10||221||TERRANOVA ORLANDOOLIVERAS CARRERAS DANIEL||PRODRIVE||00:12:02||+00:01:06||00:00:00|
DAKAR Rally Prologue Bikes classification – top 10
|6||42||VAN BEVEREN ADRIEN||YAMAHA||00:58:10||+00:02:40||00:00:00|
|9||88||BARREDA BORT JOAN||HONDA||00:58:30||+00:03:00||00:00:00|