Two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz (ab0ve) has won Stage 1 of the Dakar Rally for Volkswagen. A rally-raid newcomer, Sainz excelled in the muddy Special Stage within the first stage from Lisbon to Portimao, flying through the 83 km in 56 min 20 sec, 1 min 30 sec clear of Portugal's Carlos Sousa.

Volkswagen's five-car team of Race Touaregs got their drive for an overall victory off to a good start, with all five placing in the top ten. Team Dakar USA's Robby Gordon and Darren Skilton placed their Hummer in a respectable 14th place in the opening stage.

Despite Vw's strong start, Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen was cautious when asked about his team's chances, saying "The competition is very strong – especially Mitsubishi, but also BMW and Schlesser. Mitsubishi with 20 years of experience and ten victories in this event are difficult to beat. That's why I don't see us playing the role of favorite.”

[Sources: Volkswagen Motorsport,,]

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