MotoGP Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) was today the best Portuguese rider in the first stage of the Dakar Rally in all terrain, finishing in 11th place the connection between Lima and Pisco in Peru, with 84 kilometres timed.
The Esposende rider, who underwent surgery just a month ago to remove the spleen, lost 6.41 minutes to Spanish team winner Joan Barreda, his Honda team-mate.
“The special today went very well, I’m very pleased to have finished without any problems, I did not have any pain, but I had a lack of pace, I went with a lot of caution, which made me lose some time. I will try to get there every day, making as few mistakes as possible and improving, “Paulo Gonçalves.
His team-mate warned of the dangers ahead.
“It’s fun but it can be dangerous, so you need to be calm,” said the Spaniard, who finished 1.34 minutes ahead of Chile’s Pablo Quintanilha (Husqvarna) and 2.52 minutes over the American Ricky Brabec (Honda).
Joaquim Rodrigues Jr. (Hero) was the 23rd, 10.14 minutes of Barreda, who finished this first special in 57.36 minutes.
Mário Patrão, with an official KTM, was 36th, giving 17.13 minutes to the winner of this first stage, which had a total of 331 kilometres, including connections.
The all-terrain national champion, Antonio Maio (Yamaha), was the fastest 40th, 18 minutes behind the first, followed by Sebastian Bühler (Yamaha), who spent only three seconds more than the Portuguese.
David Megre (KTM), at 19.14 minutes, was the 44th while Fausto Mota (Yamaha), who has been based in Spain for several years, was 62nd, 24.38 minutes from the winner. Miguel Caetano (KTM) was 41.25 minutes, in 98th place, with Swiss emigrant Hugo Lopes (KTM) finishing the two-wheeled classification at 135th, with 1: 48.35 hours delay.
Also note for the 113th place of the Italian Nicola Dutto, a paraplegic driver competing in an adapted KTM.
The Argentinean Nicolas Cavigliasso (Yamaha) was the fastest of the day.
In cars, victory smiled at Nari Alasseri (Toyota), who started again well in the Peruvian dunes, winning the first special with a 1.59 minute lead for Spaniard Carlos Sainz (MINI) and 2.00 minutes for the Polish Jakub Przygonski (MINI).
Frenchman Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot 2008 DKR) was one of the favourites that lost most time, yielding 6.07 minutes in the 84 kilometres, finishing in 13th. The Portuguese Filipe Palmeiro, who navigates the Chilean Boris Garafulic (MINI), was 16th in 6.47 minutes.
The 41st edition of the All-Terrain Dakar Rally started today in Lima, Peru, and runs until the 17th. For the first time, the entire race takes place in the same country, on a course with three thousand kilometres timed, 70% of which is sand.