2012 Dakar Rally, Stage One
The 2012 Dakar Rally opened Sunday, New Year’s Day, with a short, 35-mile timed Stage One as the riders headed from Mar Del Plata to Santa Rosa, Argentina.
The victory went to Chilean rider Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez, who was followed 14 seconds behind by MRW Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma, and the Argentinean Javier Pizzolito third 27 seconds behind.
As for the Frenchman Cyril Despres, the three-time Dakar winner finished 13th, 1:48 behind Lopez; the Red Bull KTM rider’s water carrier, Ruben Faria, finished eighth, 1:18 behind Lopez.
Cyril Despres (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “Really nice to be back on the bike again – it is my favourite way to start the New Year! This morning was particularly nice, as for the first 25 kilometres or so the special ran along the seashore and there were many people out to cheer us on.
“Despite the excitement of starting another Dakar I decided to take it easy and set a gentle pace. The track was a little tricky in places and a couple of minutes here or there at this stage in the race aren’t going to make much difference.
“Then after the special we had a long liaison stage. The road was really straight and there was a very strong headwind. Tomorrow morning we again have a 400 kilometre liaison before a 295 kilometre special to San Rafael. The race is finally underway!”