Dakar stage 1 – Local hero Lopez takes opening stage victory

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Chilean Francisco Lopez claimed victory in the opening stage of the 2013 Dakar. The KTM rider completed the 13km timed special in 7m 51s just one second faster than sand specialist Frans Verhoeven onboard his Yamaha YZF.

Regulations for 2013 mean that the times set are multiplied by five in an effort to make the result in keeping with a typical longer stage of the Dakar. In reality the first day is all about establishing a start position for the front runners with riders like Despres not necessarily wanting to lead out tomorrows 242km stage.

The opening stage also has the habit of throwing up some surprises with fast local motocross riders looking to shine in front of their home crowd and today was no exception. Pablo Quintanilla onboard his Honda and Patrico Cabera riding a Kawasaki made Chile proud by posting the third and fourth fastest times respectively.

Four time Dakar winner Cyril Despres ended the day in fifth place and was happy with his performance and sits just over one minute behind Lopez on the official timing screens.

The surprise of the day was number one Honda rider Helder Rodriguez who ended the day down in 29th place. In reality he was only 53s behind Lopez but with the ruling that multiplies the difference by five he already has a significant 4m 25sdeficit.

However talking to MCN, Rodriguez was unfazed by today’s results. He said: “I do not like the way the first stage works because it means that not every rider is pushing hard because they do not necessarily want to win the stage.

It is not my job to close the gas. I prefer the way it works in the wold championship where if you win the stage you can chose your starting position. Anyway it’s not a problem for me the Dakar hasn’t een started yet the real race gets underway tomorrow.”


Francisco Lopez                 KTM                       39.15
Frans Verhoven                Yamaha                   39.20
Pablo Quintanilla              Honda                      39.40
Patricio Cabrera                Kawasaki                  40.10
Cyril Despres                   KTM                        40.20
David Casteau                 Yamaha                    40.30
Ruben Faria                    KTM                        40.50
Javier Pizzololito               Honda                      41.00
Pal Ullevalseter                KTM                        41.25
Joan Barreda                   Husqvarna                41.40

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider