Dakar Rally: Carlos Sousa takes an early lead with Minis in hot pursuit


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The Independent Online

Carlos Sousa held off a trio of Minis to claim stage one in the car classification as the two-week Dakar Rally got under way in Argentina.

The Portuguese, driving a Chinese Haval, finished the stage from Rosario to San Luis 11 seconds ahead of home favourite Orlando Terranova.

Two more Minis followed in the shape of Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah, who was 36 seconds further back, and Spaniard Nani Roma who was 1min 15secs behind the leader.

Two-time defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France was sixth in another Mini, 4mins 21secs off the pace.

Spain's Joan Barreda Bort took the bike stage on his Honda as he finished 37 seconds clear of countryman Marc Coma (KTM) with reigning champion Cyril Despres (Yamaha) in third.

Ignacio Casale of Chile won the stage in the quad category while Russian Ayrat Mardeev took the honours in the trucks.