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 GonÌ¤alves was also up to speed finishing the third fastest on the day.
Today we had a short special stage but with a long day," GonÌ¤alves 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."