No one can doubt that quads are the vehicles that gave Argentines the most joy in the Dakar. The quads, those that are seen so much on the beaches in the summer, became independent of the motorcycle class to form their own category in 2009, in the first edition of the toughest raid in the world in South America. And Marcos Patronelli ignited the albiceleste enthusiasm, although he finally couldn’t against the Czech Josef Machacek, who took the victory ahead of the Buenos Aires native. The pilot from Las Flores, a town 190 kilometers from the Argentine capital, took revenge and won in 2010. The hegemony of the family continued, because his brother Alejandro took the Tuareg in 2011 and 2012. And Marcos repeated in 2013 and 2016. With the Patronellis out of the race, Nicolás Cavigliasso took the lead in 2019 and Manuel Andújar took over in 2021. Without a doubt, and beyond by far Kevin Benavides’ double in motorcycles (the most important category of the raid), the quads they feel good to the albiceleste. And at the start of the 46th edition, the fifth in Saudi Arabia, it was once again clear with the 1-2 silver.
Francisco Moreno from Mendoza, runner-up in 2023, won the Aula-Aula prologue, of just 27 kilometers, but which required a lot of navigation. “I’m super happy to have won. Today I celebrate, but I have to focus on tomorrow. It was more than anything a tune-up,” confessed the winner of the stage in statements to the Carburando site. Adujar, pilot from Lobos (town where General Juan Domingo Perón was born), was Moreno’s escort, 28 seconds behind. “This prologue has been a real stage. Really difficult, with sand and stones. The navigation has not been easy, I think the others have gotten a little lost and I have been able to take advantage of it to have a great stage,” said the Argentine.. The French Alexandre Giroud, winner of the last two Dakars in the specialty, was third. In the preview, everything seems to indicate that the winner will emerge from this trio, in a very decimated class with barely ten entries.
Among the motorcycles, the star of each edition of the raid, Luciano Benavides was fifth. The FIM world champion, who is a Husqvarna rider, was 26 seconds behind Spaniard Tosha Schareina, the winner with Honda. Chilean Pablo Quintanilla, also a member of the Ala squad, was seventh, while Kevin Benavides (KTM), reigning champion, was ninth.. “It was a good prologue, short but with some navigation. I tried to stay focused because I hadn’t run in a long time. I think it went well, it’s a good start, but 2023 has been a difficult year for me. Physically, at the moment I feel good,” said the man from Salta, who arrived just enough for the game after suffering a fracture of his left fibula on December 3. While, Ignacio Cornejo, another Chilean from the Honda team, was 14th: “A prologue with very soft sand and a couple of very rocky sections in between. In general, good feelings. “We are changing some details in the set up of the bike to continue improving,” he assured.
Among the cars, Argentine Juan Cruz Yacopini (Toyota) had a complex start and finished 55th, 2m33s behind Mattias Ekström (Audi), the winner. While, Nasser Al-Attiyah, who will seek his sixth victory in Dakar now outside of the Toyota team and within the Prodrive team, was 12th. “It’s a good start and I’m very satisfied with the handling of the car. The stage was short, although we still made some small mistakes because there were many lines, but we ended up placed, as I wanted. Tomorrow will be a long day,” said the Qatari.
Finally, inside the cars in the Challenger category, the Argentine Cavigliasso was fourth and the best South American in the prologue won by the Polish Eryk Goczal. The Chilean Ignacio Casale was sixth and Francisco Lopez, 14th. “It was a very difficult and technical stage. We tried some things with the team, it was very technical. The race starts tomorrow and we are working to find a good direction for the week,” Chaleco confessed.
This Saturday the first stage will be held Alula-Al Henakiyah, which will have 192 kilometers of connection and 463 of special. The first 30 kilometers will be dunes, but from there the runners will find fast paths.
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