The 2024 Dakar Rally has finally begun in Saudi Arabia with the prologue kicking off the action amidst the breathtaking backdrop of AlUla.
The organisers had set a very tricky prologue which saw riders being tested on off-piste and sandy sections relying heavily on their navigation skills.
Riding amongst the historical rock formations Tosha Schareina on today’s 27 km course being on full attack from the get go. The young Spaniard brilliantly topped the timesheets and therefore saw him take his first ever Dakar stage win.
“I felt really good in the prologue, it was longer than expected with more navigation and it was 100% sand too. Of course, we have to keep our feet on the ground because the main race starts tomorrow, so I will keep focused on that and keeping thinking about the Dakar.” Schareina said.
Aussie Daniel Sanders was a further 12 seconds behind in second place. Ross Branch was only another four seconds behind Sanders to complete the top three.
A day after his 33rd birthday, Adrien Van Beveren kept in touching distance to be fourth just 24 seconds behind.
All the big names were present in the top ten with Australian Toby Price eighth fastest.
The bonus of finishing in the top ten today means riders will get to choose their place for tomorrow’s stage later on this evening and with Tosha on top it’ll be interesting to see what position he chooses. Don’t forget he won World Rally-Raid Championship stages in 2023 despite being first on the stage so this could very well be factored into his plan for tomorrow.
Stage one will kick off the first weekend in January with riders heading East from AlUla to Al Henakiyah where they will be thrown into a 414 km special stage. A 127 km liaison will make up the 541 km total distance in what promises to be a demanding day with rocky terrain and volcanoes on the menu as riders head to the first bivouac.