The third stage of the Dakar Rally from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, Peru, kicked off with a 467 km liaison and a 331 km special. Today’s stage proved ruthless as navigational errors and foggy conditions plagued the race.
Defending champion Carlos Sainz of X-Raid Mini JCW Team suffered a blow as a navigational error led the team into a dune hole that resulted in significant suspension damage only 38km into the stage. The Spaniard’s hopes were diminished in reclaiming the title, after losing almost 5 hours in repairs to the left suspension.
Stephane Peterhansel commanded the stage win for X-Raid Mini JCW Team, reaching Arequipa with a time of 03h54”32”, beating Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by 3’26’ as Jakub Przygonski Orlen X-Raid Team nabbed third. Peterhansel is in third place overall, 7’03″ behind race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Thirteen time Dakar champion, Peterhansel revealed: ”It was a nice stage, with tough dunes and tricky navigation: hard-to-find way-points in the valleys. It was a quintessentially Peruvian stage and the sign of things to come in the next few days.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah fought back to take the overall lead from teammate Giniel De Villiers as the pair prepare to take on tomorrows marathon stage.
Poland’s Jakub Przygońsk of Orlen X-Raid Team had a solid finish in third at the end of the third stage in Arequipa, fifth overall, and sitting less than 15 minutes behind the leaders.
Nine time World Rally champion and Red Bull privateer Sebastian Loeb, proved just how crucial errors can be, after nabbing the second stage win yesterday, Loeb made a costly navigational error during the foggy conditions, conceding 42’55’ to Stéphane Peterhansel, starting the marathon stage in eighth overall.
Loeb reveals: ”It was very foggy, but the problem was getting lost. We couldn’t find our way back, so we went around in circles… and lost half an hour doing this. We lost big time, so we’ll start from far back tomorrow. ”
France’s Cyril Despres of X-Raid Mini JCW Team also suffered navigational errors, slipping back to 6th but remaining in the Top 10.
Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha Official Rally Team) took the stage three win with a time of 04h 07′ 42” ahead of Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna Factory Racing) and Kevin Benavides (Honda).
Foggy conditions continued to plague the final leg of stage three as Sam Sunderland, The 2017 champion, battled fog and navigation challenges in the third stage nabbing third place in the overall standings.
Sunderland reveals: “Definitely, it was difficult with the fog. For me, the road book was more or less good, but the problem was on the plateau, with the fog, you couldn’t see. This was the issue so… You really couldn’t see two/three meters in front of you. Finally, I stopped and took my goggles off and I was able to see a bit better. Yeah, a lot of chaos, after that everyone was in a group and everyone was going in front. But yeah, I’m sure we have many more days to come. This is the Dakar, it’s what it’s all about, tough times and up and downs, some carnage in the stage… Really, I just try to take each day as it comes, do my best, focus on my navigation and try to avoid mistakes because I think that’s what’s gonna make the difference in this race, as we saw today.”
KTM’s reigning champion Matthias Walkner also got lost in the reduced visibility, dropping to eighth place overall, 21 minutes behind the lead.
Spain’s Gerard Farres Quell took the stage win with a time of 04h 35′ 58’’, ahead of Chile’s Francisco Lopez Contardo, and Russia’s Sergei Kariakin, third.
Andrey Karginov of Kamaz-Master clinched an impressive victory in Arequipa stretching the lead 12 minutes ahead of Federico Villagra. Third-placed Dmitry Sotnikov came ahead of overall leader Eduard Nikolayev, who lost 14 minutes in this stage.
Tomorrow, the marathon stage 4 begins from Arequipa to Tacna with 259 km of liaison followed by 405 km of racing.
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of Red Bull Media