The Dakar Rally doesn't do gentle introductions, and the 2017 race was bang-on form as the race left Paraguay's capital city Asunción and headed out into the wilderness. A short and sweet timed special stage saw the first race results posted, and some familiar names are making their mark at the top of the early leaderboards.
In the cars it was two-times winner Nasser Al-Attiyah who was first across the finish line, despite a scare towards the end of the day. Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb kept his powder dry with a calm and collected drive to sixth.
On two wheels the Red Bull KTM Factory Team have won the last 15, and have no intentions on giving up their grip on the bike race this time around. Matthias Walkner and Sam Sunderland both enjoyed their return to action with top 10 placings on the opening stage. Their team-mate and reigning Dakar champ Toby Price is also well placed with a top 20 result, alongside Stefan Svitko and Daniel Nosiglia. Hélder Rodrigues is within 2m30s of early leader Xavier De Soultrait after bringing home his Yamaha in 27th place.
There was plenty for host continent South America to celebrate on the first day of quad race, with Brazilian, Argentine and Paraguayan riders sharing the opening stage podium. Fans of 2015 Dakar winner Ignacio Casale, from Chile, will be encouraged by his top 10 result as he keeps pace with the pacesetters.
Tweet of the day
Quote of the day
It’s not time to make a move yet.Sébastien Loeb
The Frenchman sends out a warning to his rivals that he's sizing them up.
We got the job done today of starting the rally off in Paraguay. I opened the road today and that’s never easy on a Dakar stage. There was some wildlife out on the stage so I had to be careful to avoid that.Toby Price
Defending champion Price outlines the hazards that can cross the paths of riders and drivers.
Watch the riders heading for the start this morning ...
Coming up tomorrow
Stage 2: Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán
Timed stage: 275 km
Total distance: 803 km
Timed stage: 284 km
Total distance: 812 km
As we leave Paraguay and head into Argentina the distance increases sharply, with over 800 km to cover and close to 300 km inside the timed special stage section. Competitors will have to pay close attention to weather reports, as dust clouds or mud baths could await, or maybe even a mixture of both.