Are 12 noon. It is the hour of prayer in Riyadh. The prayers are heard from the camp of the Dakar Rally, which on this occasion an exceptional resting on full capital of the kingdom. This is the stage of rest and the riders will cater to sponsors, guests and media. Also Carlos Sainz (Madrid, 57 years), who washes your Mini in the station Karcher, poses for a photo and retreated to his motorhome to chat quietly about this year’s Rally Dakar, the first in Saudi Arabia. Although the differences in head are minimal, Sainz is the leader in cars, the one that has committed less errors, has sailed better and run more.

Question. why the veterans are sending each year in the Dakar?


Sainz defends himself from the attack of Peterhansel in the desert arabia, The Dakar in the co-pilot Fernando Alonso enjoyed in the dunes: “The improvement has been spectacular,”

Response. there Are a number of circumstances. We are three riders in this time that we have a series of conditions that allow us to be struggling to win, but it’s not necessarily a matter of age. Ten years ago we were the same and we were younger. It has given a generation of riders with the best pilot in the history of the Dakar, which is Peterhansel; with Al-Attiyah, who is three-quarters of the same and to me, that I want to consider able to fight with them. And I think that is circumstantial.

Q. Al-Attiyah speaks of your Mini with a certain amount of envy. How has it improved the car?

A. The car last year it came to the Dakar in better conditions than the previous year, but we were not able to show their potential for a problem that we had with the inflation and deflation of the tires. And that in a Dakar of sand as the one we discarded. We were not competitive, we won relatively easily, we broke… But no one protested or said anything about the regulations. Then we went to Morocco, they took us out 20 minutes and no one complained. We came to the Dakar and in the first week there is a difference, as we are seeing, for two or three minutes, and already there are complaints that the regulation favors the buggy as ours. It doesn’t seem fair. I am happy and satisfied. We will fast, we’ve managed to make a car capable of winning stages and I am proud for it. Not only is the Volkswagen, it is the Peugeot, is this car… It gave up for dead a long time ago and here we are fighting for the Dakar

Q. what we have Not seen yet any stage with serious accident, how is the race being more benevolent this year?

A. Is being a Dakar hard. Here the bloodbath will little by little making a dent. In fact, the differences between cars begin to be as important except between the first three. In addition, we will face the second week of the race with special of 500 or 550 kilometres, distances that many years ago that we did not do. That means many hours in the car. And a lot of time in the that can move things. On the other hand, we’re going to face a field of many more sand dunes in which you can get nailed at any time, and losing ten, 15 or 20 minutes.

it Is difficult to imagine what it is to go 550km to fund for an unknown land

Q. How is it to spend five hours in the car?

A. it Is difficult for people to imagine what it is to go 550 km depth, a plot of land that you do not know. It is hard, very hard. That’s why the Dakar, you have to preparárselo well. And you have to try to get in the best shape possible, if you are a veteran like me.

Q. there has Been much talk this year of the co-pilot. There was a time in which it will be fought with Nasser Al-Attiyah by Lucas Cruz. Does it cost to convince you?

A. With Luke we have already won two Dakar. It is a type fantastic, a pleasure to deal with him. Apart from being an excellent co-pilot, he is very calm, understands me very well and the truth is that we are not having any problem. Whatever happens in this race, the friendship and the respect that we have will last always.

Q. what has been underestimated the role of the co-pilot on a race like this?

A. Is essential. Without a good co-driver it is impossible to win a Dakar. And more so in this case, that is delivering the route book in the morning in several stages. The stress and the situations that occur within the car are complicated to manage. And the truth is that Lucas is doing a good job.

Q. there Was a scuffle with Al-Attiyah in the early stages. And it is not the first. How is your relationship?

Alonso is super-competitive and fast learning. You should be proud

A. Is good, what happens is that Nasser is very competitive and it sometimes does weird things like that, when all of a sudden decided not to let us go, and I had like 15 or 20 notices our. He then said that he thought that was a motorbike or I don’t know what history. It is a very special kind, but it is nice.

Q. what Will it is surprising the performance of the couple Alonso-Coma in his debut?

A. What they are doing very well. Fernando wait, all the best, because it is an excellent pilot, super competitive, that learns fast, and I think that has to be very proud of what he has done up until now. It was a shame those two hours, and the peak that was lost, but is part of the things that can happen in a Dakar. Chapeau with what you are doing.

Q. beyond the scenery and the race, how it has found the country?

A. Have a few ways very different from ours, but I am confident that this type of events will help the country to change, to change the customs so radical that they have. Last year there was a golf event, you’ve come to the Formula E, now the Dakar. And, little by little, the new generation in Saudi Arabia is going to try to open doors and not to be so radical in many ways.

Q. how Many christmases ago that he says to Reyes, his wife, that this is going to be the last Dakar?

A. I dare Not say it, because it would take very, very seriously. So I prefer not to tell him, just in case, although it may be the last. You never know. The World Rally so I stopped one day to another. On that day we will also reach the Dakar. I don’t know when. I think that I have earned the right to be able to decide when to stop. And have fun and be here.

Six more stages and a marathon without the help of computers

after the first week of Rally Dakar —carlos Sainz leads the general cars, with Al-Attiyah to eight minutes and Peterhansel 16— the race enters into the desert arabia and juts into the Empty Quarter, to the southeast of the country, an area virtually uninhabited except for a handful of villas. A huge area and immaculate that will give much work to the runners, even to the best surf the dunes. Riyadh, the Dakar caravan will move to Wadi Al Dawasir, Harad, Shubaytah and Qiddiya, a few kilometres from Riad. Six more stages in which the sand will be the star total. Six stages including a marathon stage (for all bikes and cars) that will leave you without assistance to participants only one day to the end of the Rally.

it Will be key to take care of the vehicles so that they come back to Harad —the night will pass in Shubaytah— in the best conditions. That, without losing too much. “When you go to a marathon stage, you have to try to manage it. But, on the other hand, when is the race so tight you can’t manage a lot. You can only expect that it does not happen anything and then, during the time that you have to finish the stage, do a strategic plan for the three or four key things that you have to control. And expect that no problem serious enough for you means losing a lot of time the next day,” said Sainz.

to Overcome this foray into the Empty Room that will leave competitors with a foot and a half in Qiddiya.

you Can follow Sports of THE COUNTRY on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe here to the Newsletter.