Among the opening-stage winners of the Dakar Rally Sunday was Cristina Gutierrez, who set the fastest time in the Lightweight Vehicles category for the punishing 277km route on Stage One. The Spaniard, who has previously finished four editions of the Dakar in the car category, become the first female Dakar stage winner since Jutta Kleinschmidt in 2005.

“There were lots of very tricky things on the stage. We had one puncture, but I think everyone had at least one today. The work that my co-driver Francois (Cazalet) did on the navigation was incredible because it was so tough today,” said Gutierrez.

Overall reigning champion Carlos Sainz was also among those suffering a puncture and a navigational hiccup, but he nevertheless took the stage win and claimed top spot on the leaderboard.

“There was a place where we got lost for three or four minutes, a place where lots of other cars got lost,” admitted the three-time Dakar champ.