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]

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