The opening day of the 2013 Dakar saw the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team secure a stage win during their first taste of competitive action. The specially designed Buggy made the grade as it completed its Dakar debut over a short but sandy stage on the outskirts of Pisco. The stage win of Carlos Sainz and co-driver Timo Gottschalk has proved that the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team have built a Buggy that can keep pace with the best.
Today’s 13km desert stage came after an early start in Lima where a massive crowd came out to bid farewell to the competitors of the 2013 Dakar. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for car #300 as Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Lucas Cruz got out of their Buggy to show the crowd their appreciation for the incredible support they received in Lima.
After a 250km drive to Pisco the first timed special stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally was contested over the desert sands of Peru. Carlos’ winning time of 7m40s has established him as the early leader of the race with Nasser’s Buggy coming home just 10 seconds behind him in third place.
There was an extra reward for today’s strong drives from Carlos and Nasser after all the times in the car race were multiplied by three to help spread out the early leaderboard. The Qatar Red Bull Rally Team will be looking to build on today’s solid performance when they tackle tomorrow’s 327km timed special stage.
Carlos Sainz: “Today was a very small stage and we can say that the rally starts for real tomorrow. This first stage was like a little taste of what we can expect in the coming days. Nevertheless it was good to start the Dakar by winning the first stage because it gives the whole team confidence.
“We are learning from every kilometre we drive in our new car and anything we find that is not perfect we try to improve. For us everyday of this race is crucial and tomorrow’s long stage will teach us even more about our Buggy.”
Timo Gottschalk (co-driver of Carlos Sainz): “To be honest it was a surprise to me that we had won the stage because it did not feel like we were going that fast. We just tried to find a good racing rhythm, not too fast but also not too slow. Tomorrow will be a completely different challenge because the distance will increase so much but that’s all part of the game.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We are all so happy to be here in the Dakar and the start from Lima this morning was really special. There were so many people there to give us support in the city and also all the way along the 250km liaison route to Pisco.
“Today was just a great day for us because Carlos and Timo managed to win the first Dakar stage ever driven by our completely new car. The result we achieved today has instilled a lot of confidence into our Qatar Red Bull Rally Team.
Lucas Cruz (co-driver of Nasser Al-Attiyah): “Even a short stage like the one we had today will always have hazards at the Dakar. There was some soft sand at the very beginning of today’s stage and after the bikes had passed through it became dangerous. We took our time and we were okay but I know some other cars got stuck.”