It was a very good start into the 2014 Dakar Rally, for the Monster Energy X-raid Team and the X-raid Team. Together with his Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiúza, Argentinean Orlando Terranova took his orange MINI All4 Racing to second place behind Carlos Sousa (Haval), in stage one. And with Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Lucas Cruz (ESP) and Nani Roma (ESP) / Michel Périn (FRA), two other MINI ALL4 Racing teams finished third and fourth respectively.
The two Frenchmen Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret in their black MINI ALL4 Racing lost some time due to a puncture, came sixth – and crossed the finish line in exactly the same time as Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) and Konstantin Zhiltsov (RUS) in the red MINI ALL4 Racing.
The frustration due to the fact that the team failed to win stage one was limited. After all, no driver who was the fastest in the car category on day one succeeded in winning the Dakar, in recent years. By finishing second, Terranova proved to be the fastest Monster Energy X-raid driver. “The track resembled a WRC stage a lot – it was tight and twisting. So, making mistakes was easy,” said the Argentinean. “But with 40 kilometres covered I found a good rhythm and started to push. Definitely the right decision.”
For Al-Attiyah, it was the first time he drove the MINI ALL4 Racing in anger – and he came third. “I took it easy to day to familiarise myself even better with the MINI,” said Al-Attiyah. Some 30 seconds behind the driver from Qatar, Spain’s Nani Roma finished fourth and proved to be happy with this result. “This was a good start into the Dakar,” he said. “Unfortunately I had to drive some 60 kilometres in the dust of Carlos Sainz, thus losing some time. Otherwise, we possibly could have achieved an even better result.”
For quite a while, Peterhansel seemed to be on the way to winning stage one but then, a slow puncture cost him valuable time. “With just 30 more kilometres to go, the rear of the car handled more and more nervously and when the vehicle was nearly uncontrollable, we changed the tyre,” the Frenchman said in the bivouac. “Then, I rejoined the action ahead of Nasser. But when he used his sentinel I let him pass.” Just as Roma, Holowczyc also lost time in the dust of an opponent. “But I didn’t want to take any risks,” admitted the Pole. “It’s day one today and a lot of things can happen.”
Tomorrow, the drivers will have to cope with a diversified programme. The first part of the stage will be one of the fastest sections of the entire event. Over the course of the stage’s final 100 kilometres, however, the competitors will have to battle their way across the grey dunes of Nihuil. Altogether, they will have to cover a mileage of 798 kilometres, with 433 special-stage kilometres.
Result stage 1:
1st C. Sousa (POR) / M. Ramalho (POR) Haval – 2h 20m 36s
2nd O. Terranova (ARG) / P. Fiúza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 20m 47s
3rd N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / L. Cruz (ESP) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 21m 23s
4th N. Roma (ESP) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 21m 51s
5th C. Sainz (ESP) / T. Gottschalk (GER) Buggy – 2h 24m 39s
6th S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 24m 57s
7th K. Holowczyc (POL) / K. Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 24m 57s
11th F. Villagra (ARG) / J. P. Companc (ARG) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 26m 45s
13th V. Vasilyev (RUS) / V. Yevtyekhov (UKR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 28m 36s
18th A. Yacopini (ARG) / M. J. Scopinaro (ARG) BMW X3 CC – 2h 31m 39s
22nd M. Kaczmarski (POL) / F. Palmeiro (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 32m 59s
25th Zhou Yong (CHN) / Hong Yu Pan (CHN) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 33m 43s
28th B. Garafulic (CHI) / G. Picard (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 36m 42s
29th S. Schott (GER) / H. Schmidt (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing – 2h 37m 52s