The three South African-built Toyota Hiluxes of Overdrive Racing completed the first proper desert stage of the Qatar Cross-Country Rally in first, second and fourth positions, moving up to first, third and fourth in the overall standings.

Local driver Nasser Al-Attiyah - a former Dakar Rally winner - and Spanish navigator Lucas Cruz Senra dominated the second stage of the rally, and now have a comfortable 11min 07sec lead going into the second of four long desert stages on Thursday.

Al-Attiyah said: “It was a good start to the rally. I wanted to push to see the real pace of the Toyota - and it performed perfectly on a difficult stage.

But there is still a long way to go in the rally and Lucas and I are looking forward to the next couple of days.”

“NO FLUKE”

The Argentinean crew of Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue finished the stage second position to hold third overall, while Qatari Faisal Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel started 10th, climbed to seventh at the first checkpoint and moved up to fifth at the next one.

Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin said: “All the teams did a great job today. Nasser and Lucas showed why they are considered one of the top crews in cross-country, and Lucio showed great pace, to prove that his recent fifth place on the Dakar was no fluke.

“But for me, the big surprise of the day was Faisal and Matthieu. Their fourth place on the stage was impressive considering they had to stop to fix a puncture.”

On Thursday the competitors will tackle a repeat of the 330.51km second stage through the southern part of the tiny emirate.

RESULTS after SS1 of the Qatar Cross-Country Rally

1 Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (Qatar)/Lucas Cruz Senra (Spain) Toyota Hilux - 3h 06min19.1

2 Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Saudi Arabia)/Filipe Palmeiro (Portugal) Mini All4 - 3h 17min26.7

3 Lucio Alvarez (Argentina)/Bernardo Graue (Argentina) Toyota Hilux - 3h 18min19.8

4 Faisal Al-Attiyah (Qatar)/Matthieu Baumel (France) Toyota HiLux - 3h 23min12.4

5 Jean-Louis Schlesser (France)/Konstantin Zlitstov (Russia) Schlesser - 3h 24min55.4

6 Khalifa Al-Mutaiwei (United Arab Emirates)/Andreas Schulz (Germany) Mini All4 - 3h 26min47.0

7 Vladimir Vasilyev (Russia)/Vitaliy Yevtyekhov (Russia) G-Force Proto - 3h 36min30.8

8 Boris Gadasin (Russia)/Dan Shchemel (Russia) G-Force Proto - 3h 41min52.7

9 Ilya Kusnetsov (Russia)/Roman Elagin (Russia) BMW X3 - 3h 46min57.9

10. Miroslav Zapletal (Czech Republic)/Miloslav Janacek (Czech Republic) BMW X3 - 3h 50min41.1