Special (timed): 39km
Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price has finished the opening stage of the 2017 Dakar rally in 17th position, 1min25secs behind stage victor Frenchman Xavier de Soultriat (Yamaha). The Yamaha rider was forced to concede nine places and the lead in the standings to Sherco’s Juan Pedrero Garcia, who crossed the line just 0.2sec shy of de Soultriat’s time, after being hit with a penalty for speeding through a village during the link section. The Yamaha rider later admitted he intentionally broke the speed limit so as to not have to lead day two’s proceedings. Third quickest during the opening stage was Honda’s Ricky Brabec (USA) ahead of fellow Honda riders Michael Metge (France) and Paulo Gonçalves (Portugal).
Price’s somewhat measured start to the gruelling 9000km event is all part of his plan.
“Being the first one on and it being the first day, everyone gets excited,” he said. “There were a lot of people right near the track and a bit of wildlife, so I just took it nice and easy and we’re through day one. It was a good way to start the day and we can’t complain.”
Australian Dakar debutant Todd Smith (KTM) finished less than 60 seconds slower than 2016 winner and countryman Price and just three positions behind in 20th position, Yamaha’s Rod Faggotter finished the opening stage in 26th, while Aussie privateer Matthew Hart (Husqvarna) ended his first-ever day on the Dakar course in 64th place.