Andalucia Rally 2021: First Blood for Al-Attyiah and Rodrigues

Andalucia Rally 2021: First Blood for Al-Attyiah and Rodrigues

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At the end of scrutineering this morning 71 bikes and 12 quads, 74 FIA cars (27 T1, 28 T3 and 19 T4) and 40 Open class vehicles (12 cars, 28 SSV) were authorised to take the start of this second edition of the Andalucía Rally. And this afternoon the competitors celebrated successfully negotiating this exercise by tackling a short 8 kilometre prologue held just over 20 kilometres from the bivouac. Although counting towards the overall result, the prologue’s principal purpose was to decide the start order of tomorrow’s first stage. As a nod to rally-raid’s near future the ‘road’ was opened by the 100% electric EcoPower Automotive Side by Side that intends to take the start of the Dakar in two years’ time. Victory in the bikes went to Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero Motorsports) with Nasser Al-Attiyah (Nasser Racing) taking the honours in the car class. T3 victory went to newcomer Guillaume de Mevius (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team) with the T4 class being won by last year’s winner, the Pole Aron Domzala (Monster Energy Can-Am).

Al final de las verificaciones de esta mañana, 71 motos y 12 quads, 74 coches FIA (27 T1, 28 T3 y 19 T4) y 40 vehículos de la clase Open (12 coches, 28 SSV) estaban autorizados a tomar la salida de esta segunda edición del Andalucía Rally. Y esta tarde los competidores han celebrado el éxito de este ejercicio afrontando un corto prólogo de tan solo 8 kilómetros que ha tenido lugar a poco más de 20 kilómetros del vivac. Aunque cuenta para el resultado general, la prólogo tenía como objetivo principal decidir el orden de salida de la primera etapa de mañana. A modo de guiño al esperado futuro eléctrico del rally raid, el primero en tomar la salida fue el Side by Side 100% eléctrico de EcoPower Automotive que pretende participar en el Dakar dentro de dos años. La victoria en motos fue para Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero Motorsports) y Nasser Al-Attiyah (Nasser Racing) se llevó la victoria en la categoría de coches. En la categoría T3 el mejor tiempo fue para el recién llegado Guillaume de Mevius (Red Bull Off Road Junior Team), mientras que en T4 se impuso el ganador del año pasado, el polaco Aron Domzala (Monster Energy Can-Am).


To discourage the top bike competitors from attempting to post a ‘tactical’ time, a coefficient of 4 was applied to the time of their class. But with dust and narrow tracks anticipated over the following four days they needed little encouragement to get on the gas. The Hero Motorsports team made an impressive start to the rally with their 3 riders finishing in the top 4. 
Fastest over the prologue was Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero Motorsports) from Portugal, just one second ahead of Joan Barreda (Monster Energy Honda) with the German Hero rider Sebastian Buhler third. Commented Rodrigues:

 “This is a short race so there’s no real tactics, just try and be up at the front to avoid the dust tomorrow. I don’t know what the navigation is going to be like but I’m guessing it isn’t going to be easy!”

The Moto Enduro Cup class was won by the Dutchman Wiljan Van Wikselaar (Bas Dakar Team) with Sebastien Souday (Team All Tracks) taking honours in the Quad category. Behind the top guns, a staggering 55 Challenge Road to Dakar ‘rookies’ (bikes and quads) turned their first wheels in anger this afternoon, including Isle of Man TT winner James Hillier, who finished an impressive 16th overall, just 01’02 in real time behind the victor. Commented the Englishman,

 “To be honest I’m glad I have got that out the way and am surprised by my result. Obviously, I didn’t know what to expect but I followed the Andalucía Rally rookie coach Cyril Despres’ advice and stayed on my road book as I didn’t want to miss any hazards. Hopefully my start position means I won’t have too much dust tomorrow and I can take my time learning this new-to-me sport and concentrate on the navigation.”


In the cars the fastest T1 was that of Nasser Al-Attiyah (Nasser Racing) ahead of Vaidotas Zala (Mini John Cooper Works Rally) at 00’03 with Carlos Sainz (Mini John Cooper Works Rally) third at 00’09. Finishing 4th overall Guillaume de Mevius made an impressive rally-raid debut to win the T3 class with Aron Domzala 11th overall to win in T4. Commented De Mevius,

 “I always knew I’d turn towards rally-raid. After six seasons in which I managed to get up to WRC2 I decided to put (traditional) rally to one side and last year did 3 bajas with South Racing. When the Red Bull Junior Team contacted me at the last minute I jumped at the chance.”

 In compliance with FIA regulations, the first top ten chose their starting position with the winner Nasser opting to start third tomorrow behind his eternal rival Carlos Sainz. Yazeed Al Rajhi will open the piste. Talking tactics before making his choice Nasser confided:

 “The perfect solution would be to start 3rd or 4th behind Carlos (Sainz) and Yazeed (Al Rajhi) as you don’t want to be behind slow cars but wherever Carlos starts I’ll be starting behind him.”

While the form of the T1 front runners was much as predicted, further down the results sheet two new arrivals, Mattias Ekström and Laia Sanz incited particular interest. And neither embarrassed themselves, finishing 36 and 50 seconds respectively behind the winner.

Commented Mattias Ekström (Mini John Cooper Works Buggy). 

“I’ve known Sven Quandt (boss of X-raid) for a long time and so when he offered me the chance of driving his T1 I jumped at the chance. I’ve done about 400 kilometres testing and it is nice in the fast corners and a bit more tricky in the slow ones, so I’ll have to take care here on the narrow tracks. The goal is not to win but to get to the end and pick up as much experience as possible.”

Motorcycle class Superwoman refugee Laia Sanz aboard her Mini All 4 Racing was thinking along similar lines:

 “I’m really excited to be here in a top car. It is an amazing chance to learn and something I have loved since I was really young. My plan is to switch to cars on the Dakar and this is a good place to start learning, but when exactly I’ll be lining up on the Dakar start line on four wheels I still don’t know.”



• LEG 1 : First steps in Andalusia - Liaison : 42 km / SS : 177 km / Total : 219 km / Chrono : 81 %

David Castera:

 “A nice warm up special to find your marks. It is a little shorter than the others with medium fast tracks. It is a stage with 3 timed sections for the FIA cars and 2 for the others (the FIA cars redo loop A after having finished loop B). The two sections are quite similar. The competitors who were here last autumn will rediscover an area of Andalusia that they know, though they haven’t seen it before with the wheat almost ready to be harvested.”

Source Andalucia Rally
Photo: DPPI / F. Le Floc'h


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