Spanish rally driver Carlos Sainz has the lead after the first stage of this year's Dakar Rally between Lisbon and Portimao, Portugal.

Sainz, in a Volkswagen, finished with a total time of 56:20. Carlos Sousa of Portugal in a Nissan was second 1:30 seconds back. Frenchman Bruno Saby in a VW was third, 1:51 behind the leader.

In the motorcycle category, defending champion Cyril Despres of France finished first aboard a KTM. His time of 58:10 was only four seconds ahead of another KTM rider, Ruben Faria of Portugal. Marc Coma of Spain, also on a KTM, was third.

Sunday's second stage travels from Portimao to Malaga in Southern Spain. The rally covers more than 9,000 kilometers and ends January 15 in Dakar, Senegal.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.