DAKAR RALLY

MINI LEADS SECOND STAGE ALONSO LOOSES TWO HOURS WITH SUSPENSION DAMAGE…

Alonso was close to the frontrunners’ pace over the first 160 kilometres of the test, but his Toyota Hilux was then halted after an impact with a rock that left it with wheel and suspension damage.

Alonso and co-driver Marc Coma attempted repairs on the spot and ultimately resumed the stage after giving up just over two hours.

The Al Wajh – Neom stage, featuring 367 kilometres of timed competition, is the first of six in this year’s Dakar for which the roadbook is made available to crews minutes before the start, as opposed to the afternoon of the prior day

Much of the day’s proceedings were dominated by local hero Yazeed Al Rajhi, who led at each of the first five waypoints and was up by over six minutes after 250 kilometres, making up for the time losses incurred in an early detour on Sunday.

Al-Rajhi’s bid for stage victory and the overall lead fell apart in the very end, however, as he ceded over 20 minutes to fellow Toyota driver Giniel de Villiers, who ended the day as the pace-setter.

However, de Villiers’ opening stage travails mean he is only sixth in the general classification after two days, and trails Terranova by 12 minutes.

The Argentine, in a four-wheel-drive Mini John Cooper Works Rally, was second fastest on the day, while Khalid Al Qassimi in a privateer Peugeot and Mathieu Serradori in a Century buggy made it four different cars in the top four in the stage rankings.

The marathon’s two most recent champions, Mini buggy driver Carlos Sainz and Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, both surrendered over 10 minutes on Monday but are in the top three in the overall classification, with Serradori a surprise fourth.