De Mevius Stuns in Dakar Rally Opener, Al-Attiyah and Loeb Suffer Setbacks

By Score More Staff

January 7, 2024

In an unexpected twist to the opening stage of the Dakar Rally, Guillaume de Mevius, driving for Overdrive Toyota, clinched a remarkable victory, leaving seasoned competitors Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sebastien Loeb grappling with challenges.

De Mevius, initially positioned 32nd after Friday’s Prologue, demonstrated extraordinary resilience in the 414km stage from Al-‘Ula to Al Henakiyah. His agile driving allowed him to overtake Mattias Ekstrom and Carlos Sainz Sr, securing his maiden stage win in Dakar, marking only his second appearance in the competition and first in the Ultimate class.

Overnight leader Ekstrom encountered difficulties, losing significant time during the 56km stretch between checkpoints five and six. Meanwhile, Sainz surged ahead, but De Mevius capitalized on Ekstrom’s troubles to claim the lead and ultimately cross the finish line with a 1m44s lead.

Top Finishers and Surprises

  1. Guillaume de Mevius (Toyota): The Belgian driver secured a stunning victory, showcasing his skills in only his second Dakar appearance.
  2. Carlos Sainz (Audi): Despite an impressive run, Sainz settled for second place, emphasizing the fierce competition in the early stages.
  3. Giniel de Villiers (Toyota): Overcoming challenges, De Villiers catapulted from seventh to clinch the third spot, finishing nearly 10 minutes behind De Mevius.
  4. Vaidotas Zala (Mini): Zala secured fourth place, contributing to the varied leaderboard.
  5. Romain Dumas (Toyota): The former Le Mans 24 Hours winner rounded out the top five, showcasing the diverse range of contenders.

Major Setbacks for Al-Attiyah and Loeb

In a shocking turn for Prodrive, both Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sebastien Loeb faced significant setbacks. Struggling from the early stages, both drivers dropped outside the top 10, with Loeb barely holding on to 20th place. Al-Attiyah, the defending champion, faced an even more challenging day, concluding the stage in 22nd place with a 25-minute deficit.

Next Challenge and Dune Exploration

Competitors will face an extended 463km stage to Al Duwadimi on Sunday, introducing the first dune-filled terrain after Saturday’s predominantly sandy and dirt-covered tracks.

As Dakar unfolds, De Mevius’s unexpected triumph sets the stage for an exhilarating rally, while Al-Attiyah and Loeb find themselves in a daunting position, aiming for a formidable comeback in the remaining 11 stages over the next two weeks.

Provisional Classification after Stage 1 (Top 10):

  1. Guillaume de Mevius (Toyota) – 4h35m59s
  2. Carlos Sainz (Audi) – +1m44s
  3. Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) – +9m18s
  4. Vaidotas Zala (Mini) – +10m42s
  5. Romain Dumas (Toyota) – +12m18s
  6. Lucas Moraes (Toyota) – +13m25s
  7. Guy Botterill (Toyota) – +14m39s
  8. Yazeed Al Rajhi (Toyota) – +13m39s
  9. Mathieu Serradori (Century) – +14m12s
  10. Mattias Ekstrom (Audi) – +14m20s

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