Big setback for Sébastien Loeb in first rally-raid
The first stage of the OiLibya Rally of Morocco proved to be demanding from the start. Rally-raid rookie Sébastien Loeb lost over three hours. Winner in the car category was Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Joan Barreda and Martin van den Brink won the bike and truck stage today.
Yazeed Al-Rajhi from Saudi Arabia drove his Toyota to the winning time today. He beat Russian Vladimir Vasilyev, also with a Toyota, by only 17 seconds on the 370 kilometer opening stage around Zagora. Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Mini had to settle for third, finishing half a minute behind today's winner.
Sébastien Loeb debuted today in competition with the Peugeot 2008 DKR and experienced technical problems 35 kilometers before the end of the stage. The Frenchman had to be towed to the finish line. His time loss after 370 kilometers was about 3.5 hours. Team mate Carlos Sainz did considerably better with the new Peugeot. He took fourth place.
Joan Barreda took the stage win in the bike category. The Spaniard was the third rider to start and took it easy at the beginning of the stage. Barreda made up his time in the second tricky part. At the finish, he had a lead of 1'41 over Australian Toby Price who came in third and 2'51 over the third bike of Hledr Rodrigues. Antoine Meo surprised with fourth place. Ruben Faria made his first appearance on the Husqvarna and took eleventh place. Juan Pedrero Garcia finished twelfth on his Sherco.
More problems arose for Pedrero Garcia's team mates. Both Alain Duclos and Florent Vayssade did not make it to the finish due to technical problems and received penalties of up to ten hours. Also for Laia Sanz (KTM) the OiLibya Rally didn't start too well. She got into trouble at CP2 and was forced to retire with technical problems. It is expected that the less fortunate ones will be at the starting line tomorrow.
Martin van den Brink surprised with victory in the first leg. The Dutchman and his Mammoet team have been working hard all summer to improve their Renault and the OiLibya is considered a major test. Federico Villagra was the fastest of the Ivecos that followed and took second. Ales Loprais and Ton van Genugten finished ahead of their team leader Gerard de Rooy in third and fourth place. De Rooy came in sixth after suffering three punctures and lost almost half an hour to his fellow Dutchman Van den Brinkl.
In Tuesday's special the terrain will differ completely from today. In the 224 kilometers that await the participants lots of sand dunes with challenging navigation will play an important role.