(CNN) -- Former two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz showed his pedigree by claiming the first special stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally in Peru Saturday,.
Driving for team Buggy, the Spaniard completed the 13km leg from Peru's capital Lima in seven minutes 40 seconds.
He had an eight-second advantage over Argentina's Lucio Alvarez, in a Toyota, with French driver Guerlain Chicherit, in an SMG, taking third.
Sainz, who won the grueling endurance event in 2010, saw his team Qatari teammate, Nasser al-Attiyah, who was the 2011 champion, take fourth.
Reigning title holder, Stephane Peterhansel of France, driving a Mini, took eighth place in the short sprint section, but was already one minute and 42 seconds adrift of the 50-year-old Sainz.
Peterhansel claimed a remarkable 10th Dakar crown in last year's race, four in the cars and six in the motorcycle section.
American NASCAR champion Robby Gordon made a disastrous start in his Hummer, coming to a halt on course and despite eventually restarting came in over 10 minutes down.
Chile's Francisco Lopez, riding a KTM, took the honors in the motorcycle section with a clocking of seven minutes 51 seconds.
He edged out Dutchman Frans Verhoeven on a Yamaha by a single second with Pablo Quintanilla of Chile third for Honda at five seconds.
Last year's winner, Cyril Despres of France, who is bidding for a fifth Dakar crown, finished fifth on his KTM, 13 seconds back.
The field of cars, motorcycles, quad bikes and trucks will be negotiating over 8,000 kilometers across Peru, Argentina and Chile before the finish on January 20 in Santiago.
It is the fifth time the rally has taken place in South America, having formerly finished in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.