Dakar Rally - Stage 1: Surprise victory for Lithuanian Vaidotas Žala
The 2020 Dakar Rally starts with a surprise victory of the Lithuanian driver Vaidotas Žala on the 319km-long opening stage Jeddah – Al Wajh.
The driver of the #319 Agrorodeo Mini All4 Racing, companied by navigator Saulius Jurgelenas, needed 3h19min4sec from start to finish of the stage, what was 2min 14sec faster than Stephane Peterhansel in the #302 Mini JCW Buggy of the Bahrain X-Raid Team. Peterhansel’s teammate Carlos Sainz was the third-fastest, 2min50sec behind Žala.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah finished in the fourth place after he was leading the way for most of the special stage but three punctures in the last phase of the stage slowed him down. In the end, he was 5min33sec slower than Žala.
Former F1 champion Fernando Alonso almost reached the top 10 in his first-ever participation at Dakar Rally. Driving the #310 Toyota Hilux, Alonso finished the stage in the eleventh place, 15min27sec slower than stage winner Žala.
Among early victims of the world’s toughest race is experienced endurance racer Romain Dumas, who came to Saudi Arabia in a DXX buggy developed by his RD Limited team. Unfortunately, after just 65 kilometers, a car was caught by the fire and Dumas was forced to quit.
Among the bikers, defending champion Toby Price (KTM) took the stage victory in front of Ricky Brabec (Honda) and KTM teammate Matthias Walkner. The fastest quad driver was Ignacio Casale. Polish driver Aron Domzala took the victory in the SSV class. Anton Shibalov gave the stage victory to Kamaz in the truck category.
Photos: ASO/DPPI, Red Bull Content Pool, Vaidotas Žala,