The local Imperial Toyota and Team Ford Racingtook on Stage 1, which consisted of a 629km section followed by a 180km special stage that ended in San Luis.
South Africa’s own Leeroy Poulter put on an impressive display as he, along with navigator Rob Howie, piloted his Hilux to an impressive ninth spot, just 5min57 behind stage winner Miguel Ramalho of Portugal, who completed the stage in 2hr20min36.
Former Dakar winner Giniel de Villiers encountered power steering trouble and could only complete the stage some 15min57 behind the leader after starting third.
Team Ford Racing encountered a few mechanical problems,which made the team’s first Dakar outing far from ideal. Lucio Alvarez and navigator Ronnie Graue had problems with their Ranger’s throttle body just 100km into the stage. They had to fit a spare unit before they were able to continue, which meant finishing the stage some 2hr5min8 behind the winner. The other Ford duo - Chris Visser and JapieBadenhorst - suffered sheered wheel nuts off the front right hub, which meant losing a significant 4hr34min38.
Today, participants will take on the 799km Stage 2,which goesfrom San Luis to Rafael. The first section of this stage is a 304km liaison, followed by 43km racing section and then a shorter 62km liaison. The stage started at around 11am, with the first vehicle expected to check in at the overnight stop at around 4pm before the stage is completed tomorrow.
On the motorcycle and quad bike fronts, the route between Rosario and San Luis took stage winner Joan Barreda 2hr25min31 to complete aboard his Honda. In second, just 37 seconds behind was former champion Marc Coma. Chilean rider Ignacio Casale is leading the quad bike category with a total time of 2hr38min41, while local rider Marcos Patronelli is only 21 seconds adrift.
Car leader board after Stage 1
1. Sousa 2hr20min36
2. Terranova +’11’
3. Al-Attiyah +’47’
4. Roma + 1’15’
5. Sainz + 4’3’
Bike leader board after Stage 1
1. Barreda 2hr25min31
2. Coma +’37’
3. Despres +1’40’
4. Duclos +1’56’
5. Goncalves +2’25’
Quads leader board after Stage 1
1. Casale 2hr38min41
2. Patronelli +’21’
3. Bonetto +1’17’
4. Sonik +1’30’
5. Husseni +2’49’