Toyota's Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel of France compete, during the Stage 1 of the 2018 Dakar Rally
Pisco (Peru) (AFP) - Two-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah stunned defending champions Peugeot when he steered his Toyota to victory on the opening stage of the 9,000km Dakar Rally on Saturday.
The Qatari driver, who took the title in 2011 and 2015, swept across the short 32km Peruvian desert stage between Lima and Pisco in 21 min 51 sec.
However, it was a miserable first day for nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb who is bidding for a maiden Dakar win.
The Frenchman’s hopes were hit when his Peugeot developed brake problems which left him 5 min 37 sec off the lead.
South Africa’s Bernhard Ten Brinke (at 25 sec behind Attiyah) and Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs, in a Borgward (34 sec) filled out the podium.
Britain’s Sam Sunderland got the defence of his motorcycling title off to a winning start.
Sunderland, on a KTM, finished ahead of France’s Adrien Van Beveren, on a Yamaha, and Pablo Quintanilla of Chile on a Husqvarna.
The British rider finished the desert sprint in 20 min 56 sec with his rivals 32 sec and 55 sec further back.
The second stage of the two-week event takes place in and around the town of Pisco on Sunday.