Dakar 2017 Stage 01
#Dakar2017 Stage 01 is always a little odd because of how short it is. The big names are still up front but seeing a Ford up front is likely not going to happen again, so enjoy that. Without Robby Gordon, we at least have Ricky Brabec if you want to cheer for the home-country. Dakar is strange enough that Ricky Brabec’s Honda ride and 9th place finish last year still makes him the new guy and underdog; KTM is such a dominant force after their long fight against BMW (things are weird when Honda looks like the little guy, no?)
Toyota has fired the opening shot well, taking a stage win and then setting Nasser Al-Attiyah’s engine bay on fire. Don’t worry, no major damage. It just isn’t Dakar without drama. The fight will be exiting for the cars. Mini might be getting pushed into the weeds by the current rules, but we will see when the competitors hit different terrain. It’s two weeks of racing in three countries after all. A 39km special stage doesn’t exactly show us much aside from what color everyone has decided for this year’s livery. The fact that their brand is not sweeping the front of the field on day one does not tell us much, but it does show that rule tweaks combined with Peugeot and Toyota’s improvements have narrowed the chasm that was obviously developing.
The real action is stage 02. There will be 275km of special stage (the actual timed portion) out of the 800km of travel competitors will take. And of course, there is the trucks and quads. Dakar is too big to bite off in one sitting, but here is what the cars and bikes were up to: