Bengaluru, January 8: Two-time champion Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, who is one of the title favourties this time had mixed fortunes to his Dakar Rally campaign.
Driving a Toyota Hilux, the Qatari started with a bang winning the opening stage, but had to settle for eighth place in the second after his French co-driver Mathieu Baumel fell sick.
Frenchman Cyril Despres lead a Puegot 1-2-3 in the overall standings followed by compatriots Stephane Peterhansel and Sebastien Loeb.
Al Attiyah is currently perched fifth overall.
"It wasn't easy," rued Al Al Attiyah.
"We opened all day. The reason we lost lot of time is because Matthieu (Baumel) got sick from the beginning and I had to take care of him. But we finished the stage," the Red Bull athlete added.
Earlier, the Toyota Gazoo Racing duo off Al Attiyah and Baumel got down to business from the outset to claim the fastest time on the short, sandy opening stage through the Peruvian dunes, near Pisco. Running second on the road, Al Attiyah, overtook stage opener Peterhansel.
"We did a good job. We didn't push like crazy. Maybe Stephane (Peterhansel) he make a mistake, but to win the opening stage was nice," said Al Attiyah, who won Dakar in 2011 and 2015.
But having opened the road for their rivals on the second day, that placed added responsibility on the Baumel's shoulders to get the navigation right. But with him suffering a bout of sickness in the dunes, Al Attiyah had to settle for eighth place, though he has promised a fight back.
"We know lost a lot of time, but we'll try to do better hereafter," Al Attiyah said.
Former football manager Andre Villas Boas, who is making his Dakar debut in another Toyota Hilux, finished both stages and is lying 45th overall.
The third stage of the rally which opened in the Peruvian capital of Lima will move to San Juan de Marcona.
(Source: Red Bull)