We’re two stages into the 2013 Dakar rally, and it’s the X-Raid Mini of Dakar veteran Stéphane Peterhansel that leads overall. The Mini squad of Peterhansel, Nani Roma and Krzysztof Hołowczyc headed into the rally as one of the favourite teams, but veteran Carlos Sainz had swapped from his old VW machinery to a Red Bull Buggy for his return to the Dakar and looked more than at home in his new vehicle.

Sainz came home first on the opening short stage on Day One – just an eight mile competitive run though the dunes near the town of Pisco, though that followed a 155 mile drive from the Peruvian capital of Lima. 37 seconds separated the top 10 drivers, but Robby Gordon’s 2013 Dakar got off to an inauspicious start after his Hummer bogged down, losing the American 10 minutes on even such a short stage. Local Peruvian quad biker Ignacio Flores took a maiden win for his country and Chilean Francisco López headed the bikes.

Day Two saw the first stage proper: after a 50 mile drive the 150 mile sandy loop around Pisco. Sainz and his buggy co-driver made a navigational error at a huge dune 50km into the stage. Going straight over isn’t always the right way… Sainz ended up losing 18 minutes trying to get back on the correct route. Roma (Mini) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (Red Bull Buggy) suffered similar route problems and several other front-runners also hit mechanical issues (Gordon lost yet more time and is now 49 minutes off the lead). This left Peterhansel to use all his experience to build up a lead of lever two and a half minutes in his Mini after three hours of competitive stages. Things are only just warming up…

Dakar 2013: Positions after Stage Two

1: Stephane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini) 3h00m20s

2: Giniel de Villiers (Imperial Toyota) +2m38s

3: Ronan Chabot (SMG Buggy) + 3m46s

4: Orlando Terranova (X-Raid BMW) + 6m26s

5: Leonid Novitskiy (X-Raid Mini) + 9m33s

Jonathan Moore

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