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Dakar 2020: Toby Price and Vaidotas Zala claim Stage 1 victories

Team OD  | Updated: January 06, 2020, 06:15 AM IST

The 2020 Dakar Rally has gotten off to a good start for Toby Price, with the Australian rider claiming victory during the first stage of the rally. The KTM rider, who is also reigning Dakar champion on two wheels, edged out American rider Ricky Brabec at the head of the time sheets. Brabec, however, is only two minutes away, and still very much in a position to give Price cause for concern.

Toby Price (AUS) of Red Bull KTM Factory Team races during stage 01 of Rally Dakar 2020 from Jeddah to Al Wajh, Saudi Arabia on January 05, 2020 // Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Leading the way in the car category is an unlikely candidate. No, it isn't one of the favourites - not Nasser Al-Attiyah or Carlos Sainz, and not even Stephane 'Mr Dakar' Peterhansel. Instead, Lithuanian rally champion Vaidotas Zala began the rally with a strong performance, leading him to stage victory. The 32-year old, competing in an X-Raid Mini this year, has also had a strong showing in the 2019 edition of the event, where he finished 12th.

Carlos Sainz (ESP) of Bahrain JCW Team races during stage 01 of Rally Dakar 2020 from Jeddah to Al Wajh, Saudi Arabia on January 05, 2020 // Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

There was frustration aplenty for the more prominent names, with Romain Dumas having to bow out of the Dakar early on. His DXX machine caught fire after 65km of the rally, leading to his withdrawal. Dumas said after the incident that they had just had enough time to exit the vehicle before it went up in flame entirely.

Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) of Toyota Gazoo Racing races during stage 01 of Rally Dakar 2020 from Jeddah to Al Wajh, Saudi Arabia on January 05, 2020 // Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Fellow Frenchman, Peterhansel, and new co-driver Paulo Fiuza, had issues with communication, which led to navigational errors that forced them down to second place in the car category. Peterhansel has never used an English-speaking navigator before. He was meant to compete in Dakar 2020 with his wife Andrea, before she was ruled out due to medical reasons. Toyota's Nasser Al-Attiyah, defending Dakar champion, ended the day ranked third. Toyota Gazoo Racing's other driver - double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso - ended the first stage 11th.

Ignacio Casale (CHL) races during stage 01 of Rally Dakar 2020 from Jeddah to Al Wajh, Saudi Arabia on January 05, 2020 // Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Leading the way in the quad category was Ignacio Casale, who also claimed his 20th stage win at the Dakar. Casale had a lead of more than five minutes over second-placed Rafal Sonik. Anton Shibalov finished first in his Kamaz Master to take the lead in the truck category. And Aron Domzala led the way in the Side by Side class.

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