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Roma takes surprise Dakar lead

Former Dakar bike winner Nani Roma caused a surprise on the opening day of action for this year's event after outpacing all the pre-event favourite Volkswagen crews on the first official special stage.

The BMW driver, who benefited from starting fifth on the road on the run from Colon to Cordoba, made the most of the clean terrain to edge out VW's Carlos Sainz by just more than two minutes.

Roma admitted that he never expected to go so well early on - and also conceded the big fight with VW had not really begun.

"In the end we were quite surprised by the time we achieved," the Spaniard said. "But, I'm happy. We had a fright with the engine in the middle of the special stage and had to stop to make a few checks. But everything was running okay. I think it was an electrical problem, but since it was working, I preferred not to interfere with anything.

"As far as we're concerned, it's okay. Itís only just the start. We havenít really had a battle with the VWs yet. There is still a lot of the race to go. In any case, it was a good special stage for warming up."

Behind Sainz was Stephane Peterhansel in another BMW, with Volkswagenís Nasser Al-Attiyah ahead of Robby Gordonís Hummer.

Heavy rainfall had forced organisers to relocate the beginning of the first special stage, reducing its distance from 251 to 199 kilometres.

Pos  Driver                Car     Time/Gap
 1.  Nani Roma             BMW     2h11m15s
 2.  Carlos Sainz          VW       + 2m07s
 3.  Stephane Peterhansel  BMW      + 2m50s
 4.  Nasser Al-Attiyah     VW       + 3m29s
 5.  Giniel de Villiers    VW       + 4m31s
 6.  Robby Gordon          Hummer   + 4m48s
 7.  Krzysztof Holowczyc   Nissan   + 6m07s
 8.  Mark Miller           VW       + 6m13s
 9.  Leonid Novitskiy      BMW      + 7m02s
10.  Mauricio Jose Neves   VW       + 7m08s
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