At the start of the car race, Carlos Sainz surely must have thought back to the 12th stage of the Dakar 2009, during which he lost the race when he went brutally crashing off the tracks. At the time, his nearest pursuer was Giniel De Villiers. This year, the situation is slightly different with a wilder team-mate, Nasser Al Attiyah, trailing Sainz by 4'28'' before they got down to business this morning. With a virtuoso like Al Attiyah on his tail, the Spaniard had no means of controlling the situation. He started the race some way behind his rival, so the "Matador" had to go out and conquer, and he did so, overtaking in particular Robby Gordon. Meanwhile, Al Attiyah had come across his former team-mate Guerlain Chicherit, who had ground to a halt after breaking the transmission on his BMW X3. The Qatari, who also overtook Orlando Terranova, was therefore forced into opening the road by the circumstances of the race. At the half-way point, the statistics were in Sainz's favour, since he had put in the best intermediate time, with a lead of 2'03'' over Peterhansel and more importantly 4'19'' over his "stable-mate".