Sainz finished second on day one of the Dakar Rally, falling 1m44s short of stage winner Guillaume de Mevius in Saudi Arabia.
Numerous drivers suffered problems across the day with Sainz’s report of three punctures in the rocky area positioning the Spaniard as one of the worst affected.
“I was losing little [time], so I kept going, and then, at about 15 or 20 kilometres, the stones started and I had a puncture, so I changed from the pull so as not to lose any more time with the two wheels,” Sainz told media including Motorsport.com.
“I kept going and then [I had] a puncture. I had no tyres left, I kept going and in the dust, I came across a car, I had another puncture and I had to change it.
“After that, I had to fill the slow puncture wheel with air, and I thought I had lost about fifteen or twenty minutes.”
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#200 Nasser Racing Prodrive Hunter: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Mathieu Baumel
But this suggest of three punctures has been disputed by five-time winner Al-Attiyah, who ended the day in 22nd outright and over 25 minutes off the pace.
“It’s not true [that he had three punctures],” he said. “If he had three punctures, he would still be there [in the stage]. It’s not true, forget about that, we know who has a puncture and who doesn’t”.
“It doesn’t matter if he had it or not, tomorrow there’s another long stage, it’s still the start. There is still a lot of work to do, and Carlos Sainz did a very good job, without any problems.”
Making his Prodrive debut, Al-Attiyah endured a painful day with tyre setbacks of his own which denied him the opportunity to use full throttle for a significant period.
“After the first fifty kilometres we had a puncture, then we pulled and at eighty, again, something that was strange for me,” he added.
“We didn’t have tyres for the rest of the stage, which was 300 kilometres, and we decided to go very easy to just finish. I didn’t care anymore, the last fifteen kilometres I tried, and we managed a good time, but today, a lot of riders were unlucky and some were unlucky, with good luck.”
Loeb details car problems on Dakar stage 1
Sebastian Loeb was five minutes and three places better off than team-mate Al Attiyah but also suffered a bruising stage, with punctures and a broken steering arm.
“It wasn’t an easy stage, but we were told that before the start,” said Loeb.
“We had a puncture after 70 kilometres, but we knew that the rest of the stage would be very hard on the tyres and the car, with big rocks everywhere.
“So we took it easy, then I broke the steering arm, so we had to change it on the stage. It’s not that quick to change, so I think we lost ten or twelve minutes. It was a long day, not so interesting from a driving point of view, but more a question of survival, but in the end we made it.”
Photo by: A.S.O.
#203 Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter: Sebastien Loeb, Fabian Lurquin