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DAKAR RALLY 2022: First Stage | "We Are Not All Idiots"

The Madrilenian ends more than two hours from Al-Attiyah after getting lost at the sixth checkpoint of the first stage, a place that complicated most of the participants.

First day of live fire on the Dakar, after Saturday's 19-kilometer prologue, and first serious difficulties for almost all the drivers when it came to finding the penultimate checkpoint. 

The torrential rains that fell on Hail and much of northern Saudi Arabia, which forced the organization to cancel the marathon stage scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday, also made it difficult to read the road books of the participants.

And in those difficulties, Carlos Sainz was the great loser. The Madrilenian was lost and already gives two hours, seven minutes and 7 seconds to the leader, Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah. The prince did not hesitate in the navigation, he achieved his second victory and leads in the general car in 12 minutes and 44 seconds to his main pursuer, the Frenchman Sèbastien Loeb.

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Of the candidates for victory, only the Frenchman knew how to respond to the dominance of the Qatari on a first day of real competition in which the sixth checkpoint, 280 kilometers out of the 334 timed, caused havoc first in motorcycles and later in cars. Czech Martin Prokop finished the stage third, 21 minutes and 21 seconds behind Al-Attiyah.

With these three drivers already at the finish line, Sainz and his co-driver Lucas Cruz led the group of favorites who were lost while searching for the sixth checkpoint.

The Audi GPS showed the continuous laps trying to find the good track, with the added difficulty that the heavy rains that fell overnight in Ha'il erased references that appeared in the road books.

"I am very disappointed. How many have been lost there? We are not all idiots. If they want to do it like this and that the second day this happens ... a shame," said an angry Sainz upon arriving at the camp. Black day for Audi and its innovative hybrid vehicle, which practically says goodbye to its chances of winning and not because of the reliability problems that could be assumed at the beginning of the test.

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For his part, Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel, winner of the Dakar 14 times - six on a motorcycle and eight in cars - broke the rear suspension of his car at kilometer 153 of the special, when he was in second position in the timesheets. and had to wait to be assisted.

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The rookies Carlos Checa, the first Spaniard, and Laia Sanz finished 24th and 32nd, respectively, in places far from the top, as was to be expected before starting the rally-raid but saving a very complicated stage as soon as the competition started.

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Worse was Nani Roma. The winner in motorcycles in 2004 and in cars in 2014 also had navigation problems and left 1h17'45'' over the head. Time that, added to the 49 seconds of the first day after having problems with a door that was opened in the middle of the special, greatly diminished his options to fight for the final victory.

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Meanwhile, Isidre Esteve (Repsoll Rally Team), who faces his 17th participation in the Dakar and drives an adapted car due to the lack of mobility in his legs after a serious motorcycle accident in 2007, did a good job finishing at 1 hour, 13 minutes and 17 seconds from Al-Attiyah.

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