The Qatar Red Bull Rally Team has managed to maintain a triumphant lead, following a heated four days of action in the initial stages of the 2013 Dakar Rally.
This year’s event, which will see car, bike, quad and lorry drivers tackle 8,500 kilometres of roads, tracks and harsh desert terrain in South America, has got off to a blistering start. And Red Bull’s team have been consistent frontrunners thus far.
After days of technical scruitineering and a visit from Peruvian president Ollanta Humala, the race got underway on January 5th and Red Bull’s Carlos Sainz was quick to make his mark on the track. The Spaniard clocked the fastest time of the 13km opening stage on the outskirts of Pisco with 7 minutes 40 seconds.
“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,” he said.
Sainz was not content to rest on his laurels, however, and overcame navigational problems to secure victory in day two of the event. His Red Bull teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah was similarly troubled and a lost waypoint in the desert cost him and co-driver Lucas Cruz valuable minutes.
Day three of Dakar 2013 saw Al-Attiyah – who was victorious in the 2011 rally – come back with a vengeance, securing his first stage win of this year’s rally and his 15th special overall. However, the Peruvian desert proved too much for teammate Sainz’s vehicle after it succumbed to electrical problems and a puncture between Pisco and Nazca.
Two-time World Rally Championship winner Sainz was plagued by technical problems on day four, losing out on hours of time after a fuel problem left him stuck in the sand. Al-Attiyah was unafraid to pick up the slack, however, and managed to achieve his second consecutive stage win.
Commenting on the victory, the Qatari driver hailed the remarkable technical performance of Team Red Bull’s vehicles.
“Both of our Buggies have won stages at this Dakar and I think that is a remarkable achievement considering we have only had the car built for five months. The great thing is that I can feel my Buggy getting stronger and stronger as the race goes on,” he said.
The Qatar Red Bull Rally Team has certainly got off to a strong start in Dakar 2013, but the race is still anyone’s game. Competitors have barely scratched the surface of the gruelling course and will be eagerly awaiting the finish line in Santiago, Chile on January 19th.
Dakar 2013 marks the 34th running of the popular event and racing commenced on January 5th. Competitors in four classes – car, bike, quad and truck – will compete over 8,500 kilometres of roads, tracks and dunes – starting in Lima, Peru and finishing in Santiago, Chile on January 19th.