3,100 miles of brutal off-road racing across mountains, dunes and through desert canyons just cannot be easy for anyone, even celebrated Spanish WRC champion Carlos Sainz. But despite the terrain and mechanical issues, Sainz, the 2010 Dakar Champion, scored a victory on Monday, taking the second stage of the 2011 Dakar Rally in his 310 hp Volkswagen Race Touareg 3 with a finishing time of 3:11:28. In second place for the car class was his VW teammate, Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, who finished the stage in 3:12:31. The champion of numerous Dakar Rallies (both in the motorcycle and car classes), Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel, took third in his BMW X3 CC with a time of 3:13:02. Overall, Sainz leads the car class, with Peterhansel in second and Al-Attiyah in third place.
Monday’s win was the second for Sainz thus far. On Sunday, he triumphed in the first stage between Victoria and Córdoba, Argentina. The second stage on Monday took competitors from Córdoba to San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina.
There are thirteen stages in this year’s 5,900 mile rally, which is actually considered a “rally-raid” due to the length of the race and its extreme terrain. Three classes of vehicles are competing: cars, motorcycles and quads, and trucks. Each day competitors must travel approximately 500 miles on roads and timed special stages over exceedingly challenging terrain.
As noted, this Dakar Rally begins in Argentina and continues through Chile, with the finish back in Buenos Aires. In case you were wondering about the name, the race traditionally started in Europe (originally Paris) and ended in Dakar, Senegal, but was moved to South America in 2009 due to terrorist threats.
This year’s Dakar Rally will conclude on January 15th. Stay tuned for updates.