Grabham 11th during Stage 1 of 2014 Dakar Rally
Joan Barreda leads the way for HRC Rally Team.
Australian desert racing hero Ben Grabham has made a solid start to this year’s Dakar Rally, emerging from the 809-kilometre Stage 1 as the fastest of the KTM-supported riders in 11th position.
The Bathurst rider finished the 180-kilometre competitive stage with a time 2h30m21, under five minutes in arrears of Spaniard Joan Barreda, who won the stage from KTM ace Marc Coma and Cyril Despres.
“It was an 809k day with a 180k special,” Grabham said. “I started off 32nd and the special was slippery mountain gravel roads – very dusty and no room for error. I took my time in the dust and pushed a little where I could see and finished 11th.
“I’m happy with this, as it gives me a better starting position tomorrow and I’m up amongst the faster riders. My first ride on the dirt with the new bike was also pretty good. I’m going to make some small suspension adjustments to better suit me but other than that it’s very nice to ride.”
The 36th edition of the world’s biggest off-road race gave competitors 405 kilometres to settle in as they departed from Rosario, Argentina towards the first special stage of 180 kilometres, following that with a further 224km connection to this evening’s bivouac in San Luis.
Tomorrow’s 700-plus kilometre day includes a 359-kilometre competitive stage which will take the riders back up to 2000 metres to race around Sierra Navado before their first taste of sand and dunes – 60 kilometres of them.
Of the remaining Australians, Shane Diener was 44th, Troy O’Connor 46th, Allan Roberts 90th, Clayton Jocobsen 135th and Mark Davidson 143rd.
2014 Dakar Rally
Stage 1 results:
1. Joan Barreda 2h25m31
2. Marc Coma +37s
3. Cyril Despres +1m40
4. Alain Duclos +1m56
5. Paulo Goncalves +2m25
6. Francisco Lopez +3m24
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia +3m47
8. Sam Sunderland +4m33
9. Michael Metge +4m33
10. Alessandro Botturi +4m48