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Storylines Begin To Emerge At The Dakar Rally

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, January 2 2023

The off-roaders are off and running at the Dakar Rally.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Carlos Sainz, Kevin Benavides and Chaleco López were the early headliners during Sunday’s tricky Stage One of the 45th edition of the Dakar Rally, motorsport’s toughest test of endurance.

Jan. 1/Stage 1/Sea Camp-Sea Camp

Sunday’s Stage One on the sands of Saudi Arabia saw the bike race’s defending champion crash out, while fresh-faced challengers excelled.

_ New Year’s Day rang-in with an ultra-tough 368-kilometer loop stage around the Dakar’s Sea Camp in Yanbu, with motorsports legend Carlos Sainz of Spain claiming his 42nd Dakar stage win in an Audi RS Q e-tron E2 alongside co-driver Lucas Cruz. The 60-year-old Sainz said, “We had one puncture at the beginning, so after that we proceeded with caution over the stones.”

_ Englishman Sam Sunderland’s defense of his bike title ended 52-kilometers into the stage with 2020 winner Ricky Brabec of the United States topping the timesheets. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Kevin Benavides and Toby Price were within a minute of Brabec, as well as Australian Daniel Sanders. “I kept clear of any big mistakes and just kept cruising; it was fun out there,” Sanders said.

_ Chilean Chaleco López’s Dakar started where his last one finished _ in the overall lead of the T3 category _ as the defending champ took the stage win for the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team alongside co-driver Juan Pablo Latrach. Meanwhile, Rokas Baciuška and Oriol Vidal delivered another winning result in the T4 category. The Lithuanian said, “This was just the first stage, but it already feels like proper Dakar.”

_ Monday’s Stage Two will see the convoy leave Sea Camp and head east to Alula. Giant boulders and deep canyons will be featured throughout the 430-kilometer timed special stage as well as a chain of desert dunes.

Dec. 31/Prologue/Sea Camp-Sea Camp

Mattias Ekström, Cristina Gutiérrez and Toby Price starred during the opening prologue stage.

_ A short, sharp 13-kilometer Saturday prologue track on the shores of the Red Sea determined starting positions for Sunday’s 368-kilometer timed special stage. A total of 603 competitors in 355 vehicles were involved, mostly in less than 10 minutes, to launch the race.

_ Two-time DTM championship winner Mattias Ekström of Sweden piloted his Audi RS Q e-tron E2 for the first time, recording the day’s fastest time across all categories (eight minutes) to claim an early lead in the T1 car class standings.

_ In the T3 race, Cristina Gutiérrez set the fastest time with co-driver Pablo Moreno as she looks to improve on third place overall at the previous Dakar. The Spaniard, 31, said, “I’m feeling really happy with the car and team; the mentality is really positive.”

_ Former bike champion Toby Price won for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team with Australian compatriot Daniel Sanders in second.

Nightly coverage of Dakar in the United States began Sunday, Jan. 1, at 6:30 p.m. (EST) on Peacock and will continue through Sunday, Jan. 15. Highlights of every show (all 14 stages and the rest day), exclusive racer interviews and features will be available on Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms.

CNBC will present three, hour-long encore presentations throughout the event (Saturday, Jan. 7, at noon (EST); Sunday, Jan. 8, at 11 a.m. (EST) and Sunday, Jan. 15, at noon (EST) that will be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Here is the complete same-day coverage schedule of the 2023 Dakar Rally on Peacock and CNBC:

Sunday, Jan. 1 _ Stage 1, Sea Camp (6:30 p.m., EST, on Peacock)

Monday, Jan. 2 _ Stage 2, Sea Camp to Alula (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Tuesday, Jan. 3 _ Stage 3, Alula to Ha’il (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Wednesday, Jan. 4 _ Stage 4, Ha’il (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Thursday, Jan. 5 _ Stage 5, Ha’il (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Friday, Jan. 6 _ Stage 6, Ha’il to Al Duwadimi (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Saturday, Jan. 7 _ Stages 5 and 6 (Encore presentation at noon on CNBC)

Saturday, Jan. 7 _ Stage 7, Al Duwadimi (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Sunday, Jan. 8 _ Stages 6 and 7 (Encore presentation at 11 a.m. on CNBC)

Sunday, Jan. 8 _ Stage 8, Al Duwadimi to Riyadh (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Monday, Jan. 9 _ Rest Day (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Tuesday, Jan. 10 _ Stage 9, Riyadh to Haradh (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Wednesday, Jan. 11 _ Stage 10, Haradh to Shaybah (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Thursday, Jan. 12 _ Stage 11, Shaybah to Empty Quarter Marathon (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Friday, Jan. 13 _ Stage 12, Empty Quarter Marathon to Shaybah (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Saturday, Jan. 14 _ Stage 13, Shaybah to Al-Hofuf (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)

Sunday, Jan. 15 _ Stages 12 and 13 (Encore presentation at noon on CNBC)

Sunday, Jan. 15 _ Stage 14, Al-Hofuf to Dammam (6:30 p.m. on Peacock)


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, January 2 2023
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