ERC’s Zala leads Dakar Rally
ERC frontrunner Vaidotas Žala leads the Dakar Rally following the opening day of action in Saudi Arabia yesterday (Sunday).
The Lithuanian national champion set several top-five stage times on his FIA European Rally Championship debut on last May’s Rally Liepāja. He had been a contender for victory on PZM 76th Rally Poland one month later only for engine failure in Free Practice to prevent him from taking the start in Mikołajki.
While Žala’s ability has never been in doubt, his pacesetting start to the Dakar aboard an Agrorodeo X-raid MINI is considered something of a surprise given the calibre of his opposition, which includes former event winners Nasser Al-Attiyah, Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz.
Peterhansel is second after the opening stage with Sainz third and Al-Attiyah fourth.
Today’s 367-kilometre second stage takes crews from Al-Wajh to Neom.