The gruelling route of the 2019 Dakar Rally showed its teeth on stage three as it removed race leaders from the contest. A heady mix of dunes, mountain plateaus and roadbook confusion was too much to take for some of rally-raids biggest names as leaderboards across all categories suffered a major shakeup.
In the car class there was a major blow for reigning champion Carlos Sainz (ESP) and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP). The pair’s MINI John Cooper Works Buggy came to a standstill at the 38-kilometre mark of today’s special stage. With their front left wheel almost completely torn off, the duo had no choice but to wait for the team’s assistance truck to come onto the stage and make the necessary repairs. The whole incident has lost Sainz over three hours and cost him any chance of defending his Dakar crown in 2019.
Coming through the third stage with the fastest time in the car race was Monsieur Dakar himself, Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA). The French team-mate of Sainz picked up the 75th stage win of his unparalleled Dakar career, and the first alongside new co-driver David Castera (FRA).
“We had the full mix of tracks that we can find in Peru. Complicated navigation in the dunes. Sand that was very soft and not easy to cross.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
The closest anyone else could get to Peterhansel in the dunes on stage three was Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA). The pair brought their Toyota Hilux home 3m26s behind Peterhansel, a result that lifts them to the top of the general classification. Kuba Przygonski’s (POL) Mini Rally was parked in the third podium position of today’s car stage.
“It was a real Dakar stage, with hard dunes, and a lot of stones.” – Kuba Przygonski
Elsewhere there were various difficulties encountered by high-profile car race entrants such as Sébastien Loeb (FRA), Cyril Despres (FRA) and Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) as well as Sainz. Navigational mishaps have seen Loeb and Despres slip back but stay in the Top 10, while technical problems have completely scuppered De Villiers’s chance of a second Dakar win.
“We got lost on today’s stage and it cost us 30 minutes. We also had a bit of trouble with the engine and we stopped to help a biker who was on the ground.” – Sébastien Loeb
Stage 3 proved to be a tough day at the office for Riley and Hanks in the Aussie Holden Ute. They have just reported the following via their facebook page:
“The team spent 12 hours to drive 565 km along a road which Dollar described as “The Great Ocean Road 460 km long with massive drop offs into the ocean. As Bruce Garland would say – your clothes would be out of date by the time you hit the water. What’s more – every man and his dog is trying to negotiate this track. You have semis, bikes, you name it. Just horrendous peak hour traffic in the middle of nowhere. What people do for a living there is beyond me.”
Steve and Trevor have had to put the car in 2 wheel drive as the front diff and left drive shaft have called it a day. The clutch is slipping but they have finished the stage and are limping back along the road that took the service team 12 hours to negotiate. Last bit of news was that they had travelled 143 km of the 460 km needed to get them to service. There are friends who can tow them on this liaison if the car doesn’t want to co-operate.
The car is fixable and the team is prepared for an early morning repair job. If they have time they will fix a bent rear arm from Stage 2, stiffen up the rear and do all the normal stuff like change the oil etc.
In summary, a really tough day but with some luck they will make it to service and it will be up to the boys to get the ute back into normal operation.”
The drama in the bike race on stage three matched, or even exceeded the events in the car category. Honda rider Joan Barreda (ESP) started the day as race leader, but is now on his way home after taking a wrong turn in the mountains. He was not the only biker to suffer on the stage as fog descended in the mountains and severely reduced visibility.
Aside from stage winner Xavier de Soultrait (FRA) and new race leader Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), who finished second today, there were no other bikers who enjoyed a smooth day at the office. The best placed of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders was Sam Sunderland (GBR) who conceded 8m26s to De Soultrait.
“There was a section up in the mountains where there was so much fog that you could barely see three metres in front of you. It was only when I took my googles off that I had enough visibility to ride.” – Sam Sunderland
2017 Dakar winner Sunderland ended up doing enough to move into third overall on this chaotic stage. His team-mates Toby Price (AUS) and Matthias Walkner (AUT) also dug in to maintain spots in the Top 10 of the general classification.
“There weren’t too many clues in the roadbook of where to go when we arrived in the fog. The roadbook said stick to the main track, but we couldn’t even hardly see it. Then there was a righthand turn that was easy to miss. We then got to a waypoint that was by a big cliff that we could have gone down, and if we did that it would have ended the race. So to be here now at the finish we can’t complain.” – Toby Price
There were good rides from 2016 Dakar runner-up Stefan Svitko (SVK) and top placed female biker Laia Sanz (ESP), they emerged from the mist with the 7th and 21st best times of the day respectively.
Australia’s Rod Faggotter has had to abandon his race whilst in 28th due to a mechanical problem.
In the truck race it was relatively plain sailing for race leader Eduard Nikolaev (RUS). After winning the opening two stages, the Team Kamaz Master driver settled for fourth place today. The result is good enough to preserve Nikolaev’s place at the head of the overall rankings.
The sheer quality of Team Kamaz Master was in evidence on stage three as Nikolaev’s team-mate Andrey Karginov (RUS) set the day’s fastest time and fellow Kamaz trucker Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) finished up third.
Also holding position at the top of the general classification is Chaleco Lopez (CHI) in the side-by-side/UTV class. Lopez has adapted quickly on his debut Dakar in the category and has built a cushion of 3m24s at the front of the race.
There’s a fork in the road tomorrow at the Dakar as stage four brings the first half of a marathon stage that all remaining competitors will participate in. No technical assistance is allowed after stage four, any mechanical problems must be fixed overnight by the pilots themselves. Bike and quad competitors head to a special marathon bivouac in Moquegua while the rest of the convoy will station themselves in Tacna for the night. Good luck!
2019 Dakar Rally Car Race Top 5 (after three stages of 10)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 08h34m08s
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (DEU) Mini Rally +06m48s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Mini Buggy +07m03s
4. Nani Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro Bravo (ESP) Mini Rally +12m02s
5. Kuba Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) Mini Rally +13m45s
57. Steve Riley (AUS) / Trev Hanks (AUS) Holden Australia + 06H 42′ 11”
2019 Dakar Rally Bike Race Top 5 (after three stages of 10)
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna 08h34m28s
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda +11m23s
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM +12m12s
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) Yamaha +13m29s
5. Toby Price (GBR) KTM +15m17s
84. Ben Young (AUS) KTM + 04H 53′ 05”
107. James Ferguson (AUS) KTM + 07H 05′ 04”
Retired: Rod Faggotter (AUS) Yamaha
2019 Dakar Rally Truck Race Top 5 (after three stages of 10)
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz 09h37m46s
2. Federico Villagra (ARG) Iveco +05m17s
3. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz +08m42s
4. Andrey Karginov (RUS) Kamaz +09m27s
5. Martin Macik (CZE) Liaz +31m48s
2019 Dakar Rally SxS/UTV Race Top 5 (after three stages of 10)
1. Chaleco Lopez (CHI) Can-Am 10h00m28s
2. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) Can-Am +03m24s
3. Sergei Kariakin (RUS) BRP +08m06s
4. Reinaldo Varela (BRA) Can-Am +12:25
5. Rodrigo Javier Moreno Piazzoli (CHI) Can-Am +23m40s
2019 Dakar Rally Quad Race Top 5 (after three stages of 10)
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) Yamaha 10h57m12s
2. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) Yamaha +29m52s
3. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) Yamaha +30m20s
4. Giovanni Enrico (CHI) Yamaha +59m24s
5. Alexandre Giroud (FRA) Yamaha +01h00m51s
20. John Maragozidis (AUS) Yamaha + 05H 45′ 42”