France’s De Soultrait wins 1st stage of Dakar Rally in motorcycle category

Resistencia (Paraguay), Jan 2 (IANS) France’s Xavier De Soultrait of team Yamaha won the first stage of the Dakar Rally in the motorcycle category with a time of 28:20 minutes on the course in Paraguay on Monday.

Spain’s Juan Pedrero Garcia, who races for Sherko, took second place, finishing just two seconds behind De Soultrait, while American Ricky Brabec came in third, 14 seconds behind the winner in the only stage held in Paraguay, reports Efe.

Spain’s Joan Barreda, of team Honda, came in 7th, finishing 32 seconds behind the winner in the timed stage.

Australian Toby Price of KTM and the defending champion, finished in 16th place, coming in one minute and 25 seconds behind the winner.

Thousands of people gathered along the route, cheering as the competitors flew by in the first-ever Dakar Rally to run through Paraguay.

The first stage runs from Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital, to Resistencia, the capital of the northern Argentine province of Chaco.

This stage presents only minor challenges to the racers and covers 454 kilometers (282 miles), of which 39 kilometres (24 miles) are timed.

The course gets tougher in the second stage, which starts Tuesday and will take the competitors to San Miguel de Tucuman along a route covering 803 kilometers (nearly 500 miles), of which 275 kilometers (170 miles) are timed, in Santiago del Estero province.

The 39th edition of Dakar, and the ninth to be held in the Americas, features competitions in five categories: cars, motorcycles, trucks, quad bikes and utility task vehicles (UTV), a light off-road vehicle.