Audi’s Mattias Ekstrom won the 27km prologue to the Dakar Rally on Friday to determine the order for Saturday’s start in Saudi Arabia.
The Swede’s electric-powered prototype finished 23 seconds clear of Toyota’s American Seth Quintero in the top T1 car category with nine-times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb third for the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team.
Brazilian brothers Marcos and Cristian Baumgart were fourth and fifth for X Rally Prodrive.
The times do not count towards the overall standings but the prologue winner gets first choice of starting position for Saturday, with the other top nine also selecting their places.
The rest will start according to their results in the prologue.
Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, who is chasing his third win in a row and sixth of his career, was first on the road but made a small mistake in the navigation and finished 12th in a Prodrive Hunter in the sandy stage around Al’Ula.
In the motorcycle category, Spaniard Tosha Schareina took his first Dakar stage win on a factory Honda with Australian GasGas rider Daniel Sanders second and Botswana’s Ross Branch third for Hero.
Argentina’s defending champion Kevin Benavides was ninth fastest for KTM.
Saturday’s first stage is 414km from Al’Ula to Al Henakiyah.