The 2022 Andalucia Rally is off to a sensational start among the olive groves of southern Spain. World Rally-Raid Championship contenders came flying out of the traps on Stage One as they aim for glory at the season finale. These were the big movers in the Andalucian convoy on day one…
Going toe-to-toe over the 320km opening stage in Spain were T1 car class rivals Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Sébastien Loeb (FRA). Eventually it was W2RC leader Al-Attiyah who came out on top today in his Dakar winning Toyota Hilux alongside co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA).
“Today we decided to push from the beginning and I think we did a good job. We had no problems and ended up with an amazing time.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Loeb is still clinging to the hope he can overcome Al-Attiyah’s 22 point series lead here in Spain. With co-driver Fabian Lurquin (BEL) he did win yesterday’s prologue stage in his Prodrive Hunter BRX. However, on Stage One the nine-time WRC winner had to settle for third place in the T1 car race.
“Tomorrow is another day; we’ll be back.” – Sébastien Loeb
Setting the pace in the T3 race on Stage One were Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) and co-driver François Cazalet (FRA) of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team. Only five T1 cars went faster than De Mevius and he has now won stages at all four W2RC stops this year, including the Dakar.
“We’ve had a good first day but it’s still a long race so we need to keep our focus until the end. We want to stay at the front.” – Guillaume De Mevius
Following De Mevius home with the second fastest T3 time on day one was fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Seth Quintero (USA). Quintero and co-driver Dennis Zenz (GER) won the Rallye du Maroc earlier this month and are clearly in the mood to keep their winning run going.
“We lost our brakes pretty much at the start, about kilometre eight. We had to play a smart game because it was a pretty dangerous course to be driving with no brakes.” – Seth Quintero
Quintero’s team-mates Cristina Gutiérrez (ESP)/Pablo Moreno (ESP) also remain in the hunt for the overall W2RC podium. Meanwhile, T3 series leaders Chaleco López (CHL)/Juan Pablo Latrach (CHL) made a steady start in Spain with a third place finish on Stage One.
“It’s good that we still have three days in front of us because we need to fightback now.” – Cristina Gutiérrez
In the Open Class there was a stage victory for 14-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) racing a Yamaha YXZ1000R alongside co-driver Edouard Boulanger (FRA). Following behind Peterhansel were Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA)/Kellon Walch (USA) as they debut the MT3 and its combo of 32-inch BFG KDR3 tyres and bespoke KMC wheels.
A strong ride on Stage One of the bike race was put in by Kevin Benavides (ARG) of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. The 2021 Dakar winner appears to be hitting form ahead of next January’s return trip to Saudi Arabia.
“We had mountains, rivers and slippery tracks like always in Andalucia. I like this kind of terrain so I enjoyed the day even though it was long, nearly four hours.” – Kevin Benavides
W2RC series leader Sam Sunderland (GBR) won yesterday’s prologue stage and kept in touch with the front of the race on Stage One. Sunderland arrived in Spain with a 22 point advantage over his closest competitor in the W2RC rankings and remains on course to claim the title this week.
“It’s pretty intense out there, the terrain is quite hard to read and you’re in and out of olive trees. It’s really technical.” – Sam Sunderland
There’s nearly 1,000 kilometres left to race at the Andalucia Rally and plenty more twists and turns to come on the final three stages. When the dust finally settles on Sunday, October 23 we will find out who has won in Spain and also which racers have claimed the first-ever World Rally-Raid Championship titles.
Keep up-to-date with the entire Red Bull Desert Wings convoy throughout the 2022 World Rally-Raid Championship season on Red Bull Motorsports’ social media: Red Bull Motorsport Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Desert Wings Instagram
Source Red Bull
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool