For the first time in its history, the Dakar has visited Paraguay and to launch its 2017 edition from the capital Asuncion for a sole and single stage with a 39-km special. As such, Paraguay has become the 29th country to welcome the Dakar, boasting a superb setting with lush jungle-like vegetation favoured by a tropical climate. This makes for a technically tricky route and trial-like tracks which in particular enabled Xavier Pons, 2nd in the car category, to express his skill in handling his vehicle.
What a performance from Xavier de Soultrait! After withdrawing in 2016, he quite simply grabbed his first special stage victory ahead of two other outsiders, Juan Pedrero (Sherco) and Ricky Brabec (Honda). However, the Frenchman exceeded the speed limit on the link stage and is likely to receive a penalty which will put Pedrero at the top of the general standings. Michael Metge completed the day's Top 4, while Joan Barreda grabbed the 7th best time despite a problem in a ford. In the quad race, Marcelo Medeiros was victorious with a lead of more than one minute, while local favourite Nelson Sanabria finished the stage in third place in front of his countrymen and women. In the car category, Nasser Al-Attiyah finished his first stage behind the wheel of a Toyota with a victory. He literally played with fire, however, as flames started to lick around his Hilux a short way from the finishing line. The leading Peugeot, driven by Carlos Sainz, took fourth place with Sébastien Loeb in sixth. In the truck race, Martin Kolomy let the power of his brand new Tatra Phoenix do the talking, to win the first stage just in front of Dutchman Ton Van Genugten.
Courtesy of www.dakar.com