Dakar Red Bull: Al-Attiyah on fire in Stage 1

Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel © Red Bull

318 vehicles took to the start line for Monday’s 454km route from Asuncion in Paraguay to Resistencia in Argentina with a special 39km timed prologue on Paraguayan soil.
With the starting order for Tuesday up for grabs, the drivers and riders had to navigate a narrow tricky circuit with broken terrain and sharp 90 degree turns which made for an exciting morning with mistakes inevitable.

Two-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah had an eventful start to his race. After storming around the circuit in a time of 25.41 to take first place, smoke filled the air around the finish line as an oil leak combined with the intense heat on the stage caused a small fire to break out in the front left wheel case of his Toyota Hilux. He came to a halt shortly afterwards and had to be towed by teammate Giniel de Villiers, who had finished fifth, 30km to the nearest bivouac.
He said afterwards: “We did great to win the stage, but soon after we saw the smoke coming from our car. We caught fire and we stopped it which was big for us as otherwise we lose completely the car. A small pipe was broken which meant oil sprayed on the exhaust. There is not a lot of damage but we were scared to start the engine again and maybe get a bigger problem. Our mechanics will work on it tonight and we will be back on the road again tomorrow.