Rally legend Carlos Sainz says there is “double pressure” on competitors at the 2021 Dakar Rally due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s rally raid kicked off in a prologue in Saudi Arabia on Saturday amid new regulations around the world following the emergence of new stocks of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.
The organizer, ASO, has arranged 21 charter flights of 18 to ensure that Jeddah has all the competitors after Saudi Arabia closed its borders.
All participants had to undergo a COVID test two days before flying to the Gulf countries, except for influenza vaccination. The second inspection was also done 48 hours after arrival and before access to the shelter was granted.
Masks and social distance are mandatory during the event and competitors will not be able to leave the shelter even on breaks as before.
Sainz, who won the Dakar three times He led X-raid Mini teammate Stephane Peterhansel on Sunday’s opening 277km stage from Jeddah to Bisha.Told Autosport that he believes the pandemic has put more pressure on all competitors.
“What I had to say was not an easy start,” Sainz said.
“First of all, because of this Covid situation that doubles the pressure, and every time you test, there is this uncertainty about the results.
“But the organization did a great job, and it’s great that we were able to get started.”
Neither Sainz nor Peterhansel showed a clear run in the Saudi Arabian desert, revealing that Sainz lost four minutes due to a navigation error, but finally after Peterhansel was hit by a puncture 30-40 km from the finish. Won the stage in 25 seconds.
The two will be split in 8 seconds towards the second stage on Tuesday.
“Like last year, the rocky trails pierced the first part of the stage, around 70 km, complicating our lives,” Sainz explained.
“It went smoothly after the puncture, but there was a note in the roadbook that wasn’t very accurate and I lost four minutes up and down to find the right path.”
Sainz’s former Citroën World Rally Championship teammate Sebastien Loeb suffered the first day with a Prodrive-manufactured BRX1 and dropped to 22nd place 24 minutes behind the leader in three punctures.
Loeb told Autosport that he got lost 15km on stage at a cost of 15 minutes before finding the right route. He then spent more time getting caught up in the dust of other competitors.
“I was pretty surprised that the first two punctures were driving much smoother than my own pace. [Peugeot] A buggy driving a Dakar in South America. “
“That made me go even smoother, but I had a third flat tire 80 kilometers away. There was a huge rock along the way and the terrain was dangerous.
“To be honest, nearly three hours was a lot of work, but given all the problems we had, we didn’t lose that much time. An hour delay was expected. It was. “
Sainz: COVID means “double pressure” at the 2021 Dakar Rally | Dakar News
https://www.autosport.com/dakar/news/154430/sainz-covid-means-double-the-pressure-on-dakar Sainz: COVID means “double pressure” at the 2021 Dakar Rally | Dakar News