• Jan 4th 2011 at 3:58PM
  • 14
The 2011 Dakar Rally is only two stages old, but there's already a big-time force at the top of the leader board. CNN reports that defending Dakar champion and Volkswagen driver Carlos Sainz has put the pedal to the metal to win the first two events and is leading BMW driver Stephane Peterhansel by a substantial three minutes, five seconds. Sainz's Touareg race truck whooped on the competition in the 324 kilometer second stage with a one minute, three second lead over teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah. Sainz managed the impressive stage despite consistent issues with his windscreen wiper blades. Sainz claims the problem forced him to slow down for 12 kilometers since his vision was so compromised. In total, the Dakar rally stretches 13 stages and 9,500 kilometers. Today's stage is 500 kilometers from San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy.

Sainz isn't the only former champ faring well at Dakar. Three-time motorcycle champ Cyril Despres is having his way with the two-wheeled competition, as the talented pro took his second straight stage. Despres leads Marc Coma of Spain by two minutes 35 seconds.

[Source: CNN | Image: Stephane Mantey/Associated Press]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Robby Gordon took his 2WD Hummer and crashed it into a huge bolder... then tried to pull it out with a Fiat 147. God bless the guy because he races the Dakar and Baja 1000 but please man...drive a better truck and win one of these races so Europe doesn't think we are a bunch of NASCAR followers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        He actually didn't do too bad last year with the 2wd Hummer (it was a testament to his skill), but yes, it's outmatched. Imagine what he could do with a proper vehicle.

        I like Robby, and I think he's very talented, but I thought Versus focused too much on him last year.
        • 4 Years Ago
        i think the biggest problem is the whole truck setup, it's WAY TOO MUCH baja xxxx based and therefor way to HEAVY.

        he even uses to heavy rims.

        none of the team in years and years i have seen uses these rims.
        it's a useless system, if you have a flat tire, just change the wheel and go.
        what's point of having bolder climber rims on a what is supposed to be a fast vehicle.

        just watch the legandary Mitsibischi Pajero, it has just the needed amount of tubing and not any gram more.

        i bet if mitsubischi would enter the baja with a older model dakar prepared vehicle it would leave the 3 ton+ vihicle behind with half the engine.

        i truly understand the pushrod fans, but what isn't ... simply isn't.

        VW uses a 5 cyl diesel and is beating the crap of everyone.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ehhhh, while it is not an easy race, its not Dakar anymore (but I guess marketing people don't know their geography or think general public is dumb). Also, not to discredit VW but there is almost no major factory backed competition. Mitsubishi Ralliart team has been out eversince 2009. This year you have Race Touareg team, X-Raid BMW, and Nissan Overdrive and thats about it. Rest are rather minor players with minor chances to even win one stage. This race is a former shadow of itself.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If Mitsubishi wanted to, they could be there. Also, if Versus is covering this, I'd just as soon read about it than watch their sorry Robby Gordon-centric coverage. I liked it better when it was the European coverage re-broadcast on Speed, narrated by Toby Moody. They split the coverage evenly between the cars, bikes and trucks, whereas Versus gave almost no attention to the trucks.

        Let's go, El Matador!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Remember when Mitsubishi used to dominate, with Petterhansel, Luc Alphand, and Mitsuoka? It's too bad Luc Alphand isn't running this year.
        • 4 Years Ago
        While I agree with you comment about lack of factory backed teams, to say it’s a shadow of its former self is to do a disservice the entrants battling out there right now in without doubt one of the toughest races in the world.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Who esle thinks Verus coverage is horrible with a capital H...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I agree that Versus coverage leaves a lot to be desired. This is a hardcore event with a capital H ... so why are they covering it using a format more suited to The Today Show?

      Ines Sainz is a smokin' little thing ... but I'd rather have the couple of minutes they spend on her devoted to more coverage of the days' stage.

      And Versus did NOTHING to publicize this event. I checked their site for a month prior to the start ... not a word that they would be broadcasting it this year. That info was hidden on the official Dakar website.

      Now that the event is on, Versus is showing promos for it ... during the coverage. How does THAT make any sense?? Hello? We're already watching!!

      What about an hour pre-event show that talks to the competitors, shows close-ups of their vehicles, etc ...

      This event is one of the greatest motorsport events of the year but it is covered like it's regional amateur racing. Shameful.

      As for Robbie Gordon, he's been trying to pound a square peg (his 2WD, V8 Hummer) into a round hole for years. The winning formula is a light-weight, 4WD, turbodiesel truck/SUV ... that hasn't changed in years. They work well in the twisty, technical bits and are plenty fast enough for the wide open running.

      Mitsubishi (the car company) is in real trouble ... I understand why they aren't really involved anymore. Toyota should be there ... and Nissan should be there with a more professional team. What other motorsport is Nissan involved with? They have a decent truck pedigree. And where's Ford, Chrysler or GM with a factory effort?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Thanks for the spoiler!!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        TV coverage is pretty worthless anyways :(
        • 4 Years Ago
        Jesus H. Christ. The first comment on the Mini Dakar article showed that this was going to be televised. So what the hell, AB? No spoiler alert?

        First it was FIA GT, now this?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Is it just me or is everyone muting the tv when Ines starts talking?? Talk about nails on a chalkboard! She has absolutely no reason to be on this program. Uggghh!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The 11 racing season has begun.

      First the Dakar, then the 24 hours of Daytona tests, then the 24 hour race and then the 500.

      I sure wish speed still had the rally and the SCCA runoffs.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X