Qatari Rally Master, Nassar Saleh Al-Attiyah wins the opening day of Rally Dakar 2009 in his new BMW. He finished the 371-km special from Buenos Aires to Santa Rosa de la Pampa with a time of 2:36.15 hours.”We came here to win, so of course I’m delighted to start with a stage victory,” said Al-Attiyah. “It was a fairly easy route, but still quite fast. However, it didn’t feel like I had to push it to the limit during the race.
“I wanted to control my speed, especially in the part where we overtook plenty of bikes, because there was a lot of dust. It was a satisfying day, because I see that I’ve finished 2.17 in front of Carlos Sainz.
“This proves that the car, which is totally different from last year, with a new chassis, is performing excellently.”
The Qatari beat Volkswagen’s Carlos Sainz by over two minutes, with teammate Giniel de Villiers in third, two minutes and 40 seconds behind Al-Attiyah. American Mark Miller, also in a Volkswagen, was fourth.
“The first stage started very well for us,” said Sainz. “We found a good rhythm for this really extremely fast stage. However, after 115 kilometres we caught up with Stephane Peterhansel who was on the road in front of us in a Mitsubishi.
“Because of the large dust cloud it wasn’t possible to overtake safely. For this reason we took very few risks and remained behind Stephane for the rest of the stage.”
Mitsubishi’s leading man was former Dakar winner Luc Alphand, who was 4.44 minutes adrift in fifth after suffering engine problems with his Lancer early in the stage.
Reigning champion Stephane Peterhansel crossed the finish line in sixth, having been the quickest man in the first control point.
Another BMW driver, Guerlain Chicheri, had led the stage earlier, crossing the second and third control points in first position. However, the Frenchman stopped around the 290-km mark when he damaged his suspension.
Results and standings after first stage:
Pos Driver Make Time 1. Al Attiyah BMW 2:36:15 2. Sainz Volkswagen + 2:17 3. De Villiers Volkswagen + 2:40 4. Miller Volkswagen + 4:21 5. Alphand Mitsubishi + 4:44 6. Peterhansel Mitsubishi + 4:54 7. Terranova BMW + 5:09 8. Roma Mitsubishi + 5:11 9. Holowczyc Nissan + 7:44 10. Van Merksteijn BMW + 10:39 source : autosport