Van Genugten from 10 to 4, Villagra from 2 to 21

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The first day of the Dakar Rally immediately had a number of surprises. The one more pleasant than the other. In fourth place, only a minute and 11 seconds from stage winner Ales Loprais, Ton van Genugten did good business. His Team De Rooy teammates Artur Ardavichus (16th) and Federico Villagra (21st) fared a little less well.

Ton van Genugten was very pleased with the result of the opening stage of the Dakar 2018. He had started as tenth truck for the 31 kilometres special section through the dunes at Pisco, and is allowed to start fourth on the second stage tomorrow. "This was about what I had in mind," he said contentedly. "It went extremely well. It was a fast track through the dunes, you could drive fast, but it was certainly not easy." Van Genugten needed 16.02 to complete the stage.

Soon after he started, Van Genugten got his teammate Ardavichus in sight. The Iveco Powerstar of the Kazak was a perfect target for the Dutchman. "I could close in on him nicely. When we were almost there, Artur stayed stuck on a dune, which we just overcame. That was a good moment to pass him."

Federico Villagra, who started second in the 31 kilometres stage in the dunes near Pisco, was confronted with a mistake by the organization, as it turned out afterwards. "We lost fifteen minutes at least searching for a waypoint," says the Argentinian. "At one point we decided to continue because it took so long. When we arrived at waypoint 9, waypoint 8 - which we had been looking for so long - suddenly was validated as well. Very strange. That is not how it should be. We have asked race direction if they can check the GPS-tracking closely and if we can get time back, because it's a mistake."

Nonetheless Villagra had a good time in the short, but still difficult stage. "Today gives a good idea of ​​what we can expect in the second stage tomorrow. They were beautiful dunes, but there were also a few vicious broken dunes. You had to be very careful with that."

Photo: Dakar World / Willy Weyens