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Fire fails to stop Al Attiyah in Dakar 2017 first stage

Dakar technicians are ready to take off
Dakar technicians are ready to take off Reuters/Jorge Adorno

Qatari two-time winner Nasser Al Attiyah overcame a fire in his Toyota to win a dramatic opening stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally on Monday.

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Al Attiyah finished the 38.5 km stretch in 25 minutes and 41 seconds.

The total trek consist of 8,800 kilometres and crosses three countries - Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

Five of the stages stake place above an altitude of 3,500 metres.

The motor of Al Attiya’s car caught fire some 12 kilometres from the finish, billowing smoke. He slowed down but went on and managed to finish first.

Corizon second

Frenchman Philippe Croizon, a quadruple amputee who is competing in a specially adapted buggy, finished 10 minutes behind Al Attiyah.

The 48-year-old lost his limbs after he suffered a massive electric shock while working on television antenna at his home 22 years ago.

Garcia wins motorbike stage

In the motorbike race Australian KTM motorbike rider and defending champion Toby Price set out first.

But he finished only on 17th position.

And Yahama's Xavier de Soultrait clocked the fastest time in that race, while being hit with a one-minute penalty for excessive speed, resulting in a disapointing 10th position.

In the end, the motorbike stage victory went to Spaniard Juan Pedrero Garcia riding a Sherco Tvs.

Altitude a challenge

Riders and drivers face 4,000km of special stages before reaching Buenos Aires on 14 January.

Five stages will be held at above 3,500 metres altitude. Participants will get a day off on Sunday to go sightseeing in the Bolivian city of La Paz, at 3,600 metres.

But the high altitude may pose a severe endurance challenge as a result of air with less oxygen than in lower regions.

The real racing got underway on Tuesday with an 800km stage including a 275km special to San Miguel de Tucuman in Argentina, with temperatures soaring to 40°C.

The Dakar Rally started in 1978 in west Africa but was moved to Latin America in 2009 after terrorist attacks in the region.

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