Sebastien Loeb: Beating Toyota on 2017 Dakar 'complicated'
Sebastien Loeb believes Peugeot faces a 'complicated' task of defending its Dakar Rally title against Toyota following Nasser Al-Attiyah's victory on the first stage
The short 39km run that kicked off the 2017 event was topped by two-time rally winner Al-Attiyah, with the lead Peugeot - that of Carlos Sainz - half a minute down in fourth.
"In this first stage, they were faster than us because we have very different cars - they have a four-wheel drive with more horsepower and we have a two-wheel drive, with more suspension travel and less power," Loeb said.
"It's different, and this stage was better for the Toyota.
"We have to see - the rally is long, the condition will change all the time, during the rally, with some altitude, with some different kinds of stages.
"[Toyota] improved and also they opened, I think, the restrictor for the Toyota - and Nasser is also a very fast driver.
"Now they put everything together in the Toyota, that makes it complicated for us at the moment."
Loeb topped several 'WRC-style Dakar stages on his debut in 2016, but he reckons Toyota's advantage on Monday came as no surprise, despite Peugeot's dominance of the event last year.
Asked by Motorsport.com if the Japanese marque would be difficult to beat without its cars encountering reliability woes - with Al-Attiyah's car catching fire on the road section following his stage victory - Loeb said: "In these kinds of stages, for sure.
"Last year, even in the 'WRC' stages, we were very fast, even if on paper I didn't imagine we'd have that advantage with the two-wheel drive.
"This year the Toyota seems much faster than they were last year, so I imagine on the 'WRC' stages they will be faster than us.
"It will be a long way to go - at the moment, I don't know who will be the fastest."
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