The Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team enjoyed a strong start to the 2019 rally.

Lima, Peru - Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, driving a South African built Toyota Hilux, took the 2019 Dakar Rally lead after Monday’s first timed stage between Lima and Pisco, while South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers brought the second Gazoo Hilux home in sixth place overall.

Al-Attiyah secured a lead of almost two minutes over Carlos Sainz (X-Raid Mini) during the 84km stage through the dunes, with Jakub Przygonski finishing just a second behind his X-raid team-mate, with Vladimir Vasilyev and Yazeed Al Rajhi taking fourth and fifth respectively.

"It was quite a short start to the rally but quite difficult. We tried to catch Carlos over the last 10 km from the finish," said Al-Attiyah.

De Villiers, navigated by Dirk von Zitzewitz, came in 2m40s behind team-mate Al-Attiyah, electing not to push too hard on the opening stage:

“There’s very little time to be made on such a relatively short stage, but even a small mistake can put you on the back foot for the remainder of the race,” De Villiers said.

The other South African bakkie contingent, Shameer Variawa with navigator Zaheer Bodanya (Red Lined SVR Nissan Navara), stormed from near the back of the pack, over churned up tracks, to finish 45th.

Berreda takes two-wheel charge

Joan Barreda was quickest in the motorcycle category. AP Photo / Ricardo Mazalan.

Spanish Honda rider Joan Barreda Bort, meanwhile, led the motorcycle charge, one and a half minutes ahead of Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), with American Ricky Brabec (Honda), finishing third, more than a minute adrift.

Among the South African entrants, Kenny Gillbert (Husqvarna) and Ross Branch (KTM) finished 39th and 42nd respectively, while Stuart Gregory (in the no-assistance Original class) came home 84th.

A total of 334 vehicles started the 2019 Dakar Rally, which is being run entirely in Peru this year due to austerity measures in neighbouring countries.

The second stage, which runs from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona on Tuesday, is significantly longer than the opening stretch, at 342km in length, while also subjecting crews to large sand dunes.

IOL Motoring