Mattias Ekström, Cristina Gutiérrez and Toby Price starred at the opening prologue stage of the 45th edition of motorsport’s toughest test of endurance, the Dakar Rally.
Prologue : Sea Camp – Sea Camp
– A short, sharp 13km Saturday prologue track on the shores of the Red Sea determined the starting positions for Sunday’s more challenging 368km timed special stage with a total of 603 competitors in 355 vehicles racing mostly in less than 10 minutes to launch the race.
– Two-time DTM championship winner Ekström piloted the Audi RS Q e-tron E2 for the first time with the day’s fastest time across all categories (eight minutes) to claim an early lead in the T1 car class standings. The Swede, 44, said: « A good end to 2022, but tomorrow is the real start. »
– Over to the T3 race and 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 Price won for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team with Australian compatriot Daniel Sanders in second spot. The 35-year-old said: « I’m feeling good and the bike’s feeling good. »
– New Year’s Day in Yanbu will feature 368km against the clock on a loop, which starts and finishes at the Dakar’s Sea Camp alternating between sandy, stoney and gravel tracks before a section of dunes.