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Dakar: Guillaume de Mevius wins the 1st stage in the car, Ross Branch in the motorcycle

Belgian Guillaume de Mevius (Toyota) won the first stage of the Dakar 2024 on Saturday, his first in the premier category, in the volcanic rocks between Al-Ula and Al-Henakiyah (Saudi Arabia).

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Dakar: Guillaume de Mevius wins the 1st stage in the car, Ross Branch in the motorcycle

Belgian Guillaume de Mevius (Toyota) won the first stage of the Dakar 2024 on Saturday, his first in the premier category, in the volcanic rocks between Al-Ula and Al-Henakiyah (Saudi Arabia).

He arrived just before the Audi of Spaniard Carlos Sainz (1min44), according to provisional results. The three-time winner of the Dakar (2010, 2018, 2020) started far behind the other favorites after an average time during the prologue on Friday.

The stage was more complicated for the Prodrive cars. Sébastien Loeb and his co-driver Fabian Lurquin (20th, 22min47) punctured twice on the 414 km special, the course of which was punctuated by canyons and volcanic rocks, very abrasive for the tires.

Double defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel (22nd, 2 minutes behind Loeb) had the same problem, two punctures at the start of the race, which forced them to drive slowly until the end.

Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel (Audi) was unable to get rid of the Saudi rocks - a puncture for him too - and is in 24th place (32min15).

There will still be a long special (470 km) on the program on Sunday for the 2nd stage, where the drivers will have to pass a portion of dunes of around thirty km, to arrive at Al-Duwadimi, in the center of the Kingdom.

The Botswanan Ross Branch (Hero) took the lead in the general motorcycle classification after a stage marked by the premature retirement of the winner of the prologue, the Spaniard Tosha Schareina.

The Honda driver, 28, winner of the prologue on Friday and 13th in the last edition of the Dakar, “was evacuated from the special by the medical teams”, indicated the organizer Amaury Sport Organization (ASO).

He suffered a broken forearm, according to the organization, after a fall at km 240.

Ross Branch, who at that time had the best time in the special, stopped next to him. His stoppage time (25 min 30) was reinstated at the finish of the stage.

He is ahead of the Americans Ricky Brabrec (Honda, 10 min 54) and Mason Klein (Kove, 11 min 19). The first Frenchman, Romain Dumontier, finished 6th at 14:06, at the end of a 414 km special whose route was punctuated by canyons and volcanic rocks, very abrasive for the tires.

Argentinian Kevin Benavides (KTM), defending champion, finished 8th at 15:37 and his brother Luciano (Husqvarna), world champion, finished 15th at 23:09.

There will be another long special (470 km) on the program on Sunday for the 2nd stage, with a good portion of dunes, to arrive at Al-Duwadimi, in the center of the Kingdom.

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