Rally legend Sebastien Loeb has been the man to beat after two stages of the Dakar Rally 2017. He made his debut last year with Peugeot upon which he claimed a series of stage wins but missed the ultimate victory nonetheless. This year, the Frenchman picked up pretty much from where he left, winning stage 2 over Nasser Al-Attiyah of Toyota. The Qatari man won stage 1 yesterday, he has been a stronghold in the past few Dakar Rally editions having made most wins with MINI. He however opted to switch to Toyota for this year’s edition.

General Rankings after Stage 2:
Cars:
1- Sébastien Loeb
2- Nasser Al-Attiyah (+0’28”)
3- Carlos Sainz 🇪🇸 (+1’58”)

Bikes:
1- Toby Price 🇺
2- Matthias Walkner (+3’22”)
3- Paulo Gonçalves 🇹 (+3’51)

Stage 1 started from Asuncion in Paraguay to Resistencia yesterday over a distance of 454 km with an actual stage distance of 39km. This was the first time in history that Dakar visited Paraguay, making it the 29th country to host Dakar. Stage 2 kicked off from Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán in Argentina, covering a total distance of 275 km.

With Toyota having an added advantage of an experienced Nasser this year, the team was well equipped to kick off Dakar Rally 2017 with a major win in the first stage. This was Toyota’s 5th stage win in Dakar and a 26th overall stage win for Nasser in Dakar.

Loeb turned tables over on stage two opening up what could be an epic battle between Toyota and Peugeot in the car category. Nasser opened the road today allowing Loeb to focus on speed, and ultimately giving Peugeot their 59th Dakar stage win. The Toyota was still in shape even after catching fire yesterday.

Speaking after stage 2, Loeb said: “Sure, I like to be in this position but it’s a bit early in the rally. But it’s good to have a pace like that. Today was a stage that was really, really fast; a bit unusual. I hope tomorrow will be continue to be at the same rhythm for the fight. I think we did a good stage with no mistakes – that was the most important thing. It’s okay for tomorrow. Daniel has learned a lot during this year and we’ll have to do good work with the navigation, but I think he is able to do so.”

Toby Price failed to impress on stage 1 in the bike category but the 2016 winner simply had what it takes to make a comeback. The Australian man did just that, he finished 17th yesterday but scooped the win in today’s stage 2.

Stage 3 kicks off on Jan 4 in San Miguel de Tucumán, with a destination set for San Salvador de Jujuy. Bikes, Quads and Cars will cover 364 km while the trucks will do a lesser 199 km on this stage. Price and Loeb will be opening the stages, things should get very interesting…

[Photos: Eric Vargiolu, Florent Gooden, Frederic Le Floc’h]


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