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Joan Pedrero leads the Dakar after opening day

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Joan Pedrero has had a magnificent start to the 2017 Dakar by winning the first stage between Asuncion and Resistancia, ahead of Honda's Ricky Brabec and Paulo Goncalves.

318 vehicles took to the start line for Monday‰Ûªs 454km route from Asuncion in Paraguay to Resistencia in Argentina with a special 39km timed prologue on Paraguayan soil.

With the starting order for Tuesday up for grabs, the drivers and riders had to navigate a narrow tricky circuit with broken terrain and sharp 90 degree turns which made for an exciting morning with mistakes inevitable.
Joan Pedrero leads the Dakar after opening day
Joan Pedrero leads Dakar after stage 1
The outsiders looked to have stolen the show on the prologue with a confident Xavier de Soultrait appearing to take the honours in front of Joan Pedrero and Ricky Brabec. His time of 28.20 was the fastest of the day, however, he was later stripped and demoted nine places after a speeding violation meaning Pedrero will start in the lead on Tuesday.

"A penalty was accessed to Xavier de Soultrait, who had the best scratch time, due to that the victory was given to the Sherco rider" reported team manager David Casteu on Monday evening.

"It's a great day for Joan, who was very motivated this morning. After a superb race where he attacked constantly, he preceded Brabec by 12 seconds. The work of the mechanics and the Sherco team paid off. Joan felt like he had wings. "

"Adrien was going very fast and ran into body of water and fell. He lost 10 minutes restarting his bike, but all is well, he was not injured. The problem is that he will leave tomorrow (Tuesday) very far behind and he will have to contend with the dust. As for Aravind, he continues to race and learn, he remains confident and assured.?
Joan Pedrero leads the Dakar after opening day
American Ricky Brabec sits second after stage 1
American Ricky Brabec, on the CRF450 RALLY, got the show on the road for the Monster Energy Honda Team setting a rapid pace that saw him get to the finish-line and momentarily hold the the fastest time. Subsequently, both Joan Pedrero and Xavier deSoultrait, the first race leader, posted marginally quicker times before being sanctioned with 1 minute by speeding in a section of radar. Brabec is 12 seconds behind Joan Pedrero.

"The liaison section was pretty tough. It was 354 kilometres and the special was only 39 km! I think that today was a bit of a shake-down for the riders, the machines and the crew," Brabec explained.

"The racing hasn‰Ûªt really begun yet. Tomorrow I think will be different. The humidity and the heat here are insane. You walk outside for thirty seconds and you think that you are melting. It‰Ûªs taking its toll on the body and, for sure, on the machine too, as you are really pushing it. The heat is a really big factor. It will all come down to saving yourself and saving the machine, to get through the extreme heat and high elevation."

Monster Energy Honda Team's Paulo Gon̤alves was also up to speed finishing the third fastest on the day.

Today we had a short special stage but with a long day," Gon̤alves said, "We were at temperatures over forty degrees with only 40 kilometres of timed special but 500 in total. Now we‰Ûªve got a good look at how the Dakar is going to be. The important thing is that the sensations are good and we have started very well. This is an advance of what lies ahead. We have to keep pushing because we still have the whole race ahead of us."
Joan Pedrero leads the Dakar after opening day
Although 17th after stage 1, defending champion Toby Price was happy with the day and still confident. Credit: Kin M.
Australian Red Bull KTM Factory Team's Toby Price was one minute and 25 seconds back in 17th.

‰ÛÏIt was good today. I had to lead the stage out and that‰Ûªs the first time I‰Ûªve got to do that at the Dakar," the defending champion said.

"To do it out of Paraguay was really good. I had a couple of pet dogs on the track in the second half and that slowed us down a bit. But all in all I‰Ûªm only a minute off the lead and its very, very early days and plenty more to go. Paraguay definitely set the tone and to be the first rider out is something I can put down in my own history book. Hopefully we can come back and do plenty more here.‰Û
Joan Pedrero leads the Dakar after opening day
Aussie Rodney Fagooter sits in 26th
Results/Standings Dakar 2017 after 1 of 12 stages: 39 km timed, 454 km total
1 Pedrero Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco 00:28'22
2 Brabec Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +00'12
3 Goncalves Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +00'26
4 Sunderland Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +00'28
5 Barreda Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +00'30
6 Walkner Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +00'40
7 Farres Gerard SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +00'46
8 Metge Michael FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +00'46
9 Cervantes IvÌÁn SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +00'54
10 de Soultrait Xavier FRA Yamaha Racing Yamaha +00'58
11 Van Beveren Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +01'00
12 Quintanilla Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +01'01
13 Botturi Alessandro ITA Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +01'11
14 Svitko Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +01'14
15 Duplessis MartÌ_n ARG MED Racing Team KTM +01'19
17. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, +1:23 min
20. Todd Smith (AUS) KTM
26. Rodney Fagooter (AUS), Yamaha

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