The 2017 Dakar Rally got underway in South America with Yamaha’s Frenchman rider Xavier de Soultrait posting the fastest time during the day’s short special test, but was was later hit with a one minute penalty that dropped the WR450F mounted rider to 10th overall. Spaniard Joan Pedrero Garcia was given the win, with Briton Sam Sunderland fourth.
Yamaha-supported Xavier de Soultrait posted the best outright time during the short but challenging special test but a one minute penalty dropped him to 10th in the provisional overall standings. Setting a good pace aboard his stock WR450F from the get go, Xavier made some critical passes during the day’s special stage to kick off his 2017 Dakar adventure on a high note.
Fastest of the KTM factory riders over the short timed stage was Sam Sunderland who registered a 28 minute 48 seconds on his KTM 450 RALLY to finish fourth but was only 29 seconds off the fastest pace. Matthias Walkner was fifth, 42 seconds behind while Toby Price, who encountered some dogs on the track, dropped one minute 25 to finish 15th in the tight-knit group at the front.
Sunderland said he was happy with his day but was pleased to be riding towards cooler temperatures. “I’m sure it’s going to be from one extreme to the other, so we’ll see how we go,” he said. “ I didn’t want to be too close to the front because it was a short stage and there was not a lot to gain but much to lose. It’s a good way to start the Dakar and we’ll just keep ticking off the days.”
Including a timed special of 275km for bikes and quads, stage two will be one of the longest at this year’s Dakar Rally. Setting off from Resistencia, competitors will start heading north-west and towards the finish in the city of San Miguel de Tucumán.
Dakar Rally 2017 – Stage 1 – Provisional Classification
1. Joan Pedrero Garcia (ESP), Sherco, 00:28:22, +00:02
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 00:28:34, +00:14
3. Paulo Goncalves (POR), Honda, 00:28:48, +00:28
4. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 00:28:49, +00:29
5. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 00:29:02, +00:40