The 39th edition of the Dakar Rally began Monday in Paraguay—the 29th country to be featured in the famed off-road rally.The stage consisted of 282 miles with a 24-mile special, and took riders from Asuncion to Resistencia. The short special, which featured slippery terrain and a tropical climate, was initially won by Yamaha WR450F pilot Xavier de Soultrait.
But the Frenchman, who is supported by factory Yamaha, was later penalized a minute for speeding during the link stage, which dropped him down to 10th. This gave Sherco TVS Rally Factory’s Juan Pedrero of Portugal the overall stage-one win at 2017 Dakar.Speaking after the penalty, Soutrait said: “Last year I wasn’t able to finish stage one, so to come out on top during the day’s special feels like a huge redemption. The special was quite dangerous, with both fast and technical parts. I decided to push from the start while trying to avoid any unnecessary risks.“I made some good passes and managed to post the fastest time overall. The feeling on my bike is great. This year we’ve decided to race a pretty standard WR450F making just the necessary modifications to make it rally ready. I’m glad I’ve placed myself in a good position for the rest of the race and I’m looking forward to going back at it tomorrow.”Finishing second in stage 1 was the sole American competing in 2017 Dakar Rally, Monster Energy Honda Team CRF450 Rally pilot Ricky Brabec. When the special was completed, Brabec finished 12 seconds behind Pedrero.“The liaison section was pretty tough. It was 354 kilometers and the special was only 39 km! I think that today was a bit of a shake-down for the riders, the machines and the crew. The racing hasn’t really begun yet,” Brabec says.“Tomorrow I think will be different. The humidity and the heat here are insane. You walk outside for thirty seconds and you think that you are melting. It’s taking its toll on the body and, for sure, on the machine too, as you are really pushing it. The heat is a really big factor. It will all come down to saving yourself and saving the machine, to get through the extreme heat and high elevation.”Claiming third was yet another Monster Energy Honda Team pilot, Paulo Goncalves. He finished 26 seconds behind Pedrero. Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team’s Sam Sunderland took the top spot for the Austrian “Ready to Race” brand, which has won the past 15 Dakar Rally events. Sunderland finished fourth, followed by Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda.As for last year’s Dakar Rally winner, Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team’s Toby Price took it easy, finishing 17th: “It was good. It was a short day on the stage, but now we’ve got a 350-kilometer ride to get to the end of it.“It’s going to be a long day this afternoon, but all in all we just managed to get through that bit and it was nice and smooth. Being the first one on and it being the first day, everyone gets excited. 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 so far. The way the start the Dakar, it’s nice with a bit of a road and an easy-going section, so there was no navigation today meaning that Marc could get it all sorted for us and we were ready to go.“Tomorrow, it just depends on where we are. It’s going to be a bit of a difficult day. We’ve just got to keep our heads switched on and keep on moving through and trying our best so it should be pretty good.”
2017 Dakar Rally Stage 2 Preview:
Tuesday’s stage two will be a total of 499 miles, with a special stage of 171 mile—one of the longest at this year’s Dakar Rally. Setting off from Resistencia, riders will start heading north-west and towards the finish in the city of San Miguel de Tucumán.
2017 Dakar Rally Stage 1 Results:
1. PEDRERO Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory 00:28’22 2. BRABEC Ricky 9 USA Monster Energy Honda Team +00’12 3. GONCALVES Paulo 17 POR Monster Energy Honda Team +00’26 4. SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +00’28 5. BARREDA Joan 11 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team +00’30 6. WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team +00’40 7. FARRES Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team +00’46 8. METGE Michael 15 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team +00’46 9. CERVANTES Iván 52 SPA Himoinsa Team +00’54 10. DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Racing +00’58 11. VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +01’00 12. QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +01’01 13. BOTTURI Alessandro ITA Yamaha Motor Europe +01’11 14. SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team +01’14 15. DUPLESSIS Martín ARG MED Racing Team +01’19
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!