Prologue / Dakar Rally 2024 – Highlights

DAY 1: Prologue – Friday, January 5 – Route: AlUla > AlUla: Liaison 130km and Special 27km

Sweden’s Mattias Ekström came out hard and fast at the beginning of the 46th Dakar Rally with the Audi RS Q e-tron star and co-driver Emil Bergkvist winning the Ultimate car prologue by an impressive 23 seconds from American category debutant Seth Quintero with Frenchman Sébastien Loeb third 38 seconds behind. Ekström, 45, said: “We had a clean run and I was enjoying driving the car a lot, so I’m very happy”

– With 5,000km to cover over the 12 days of intense racing, reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah was just 1m1s behind Ekström in his Prodrive Hunter rally car debut as he looks to win a sixth Dakar Rally title in a fourth different car. The Qatari, 53, revealed: “It’s a good start. I’m so happy with the performance, the handling was great. We lost some time when we missed one junction, but we still managed to finish strongly.”

– Fighting back from a big recent injury, Australian Daniel Sanders piloted his Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing bike to a prologue second just 12 seconds behind Spaniard Tosha Schareina with Luciano Benavides, teammate Sam Sunderland, Toby Price and Kevin Benavides all inside the top 10. Sanders, who finished fourth overall as a rookie back in 2021, declared: “It was rough with so much traffic in front. I tried to follow the roadbook and just made one mistake near the finish.”

– The Challenger car class looks set to be a fascinating tussle with American Mitch Guthrie Jr. ending the best placed of the leading overall contenders in fifth with three-time Dakar quad winner Ignacio Casale sixth in his Yamaha YXZ 1000R prototype and Guthrie Jr.’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team racer Cristina Gutiérrez an encouraging eighth.

– Saturday’s Stage 1 will see the convoy tackle a mammoth and tricky 405km timed special stage to Al Hanakiyah, including 127km of liaison.

  • 2024 Dakar Rally overall standings after the Prologue
  • Ultimate Car
  • 1. Mattias Ekström (SWE) 16 minutes 30 seconds
  • 2. Seth Quintero (USA) +23 seconds
  • 3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) +38 seconds
  • Challenger Car
  • 1. Eryk Goczal (POL) 17 minutes 34 seconds
  • 2. Michał Goczal (POL) +20 seconds
  • 3. Kris Meeke (GBR) +21 seconds
  • Bike
  • 1. Tosha Schareina (SPN) 17 minutes 35 seconds
  • 2. Daniel Sanders (AUS) +12 seconds
  • 3. Ross Branch (BWA) +19 seconds

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