Nasser takes Dakar lead, Giniel loses over four hours
Drama in the Peruvian desert as top guns suffer crashes and mishaps
Nasser Al-Attiyah regained the lead of the Dakar Rally on Wednesday while the victory hopes of SA’s overnight leader Giniel de Villiers were all but dashed after he dropped to 40th place, over four hours behind.
Disaster struck for De Villiers near the 172 km mark when he hit a rock, cracking the sump of his Hilux and causing an oil leak that forced him to stop in order to save the engine.
“We knew that we’d had a big hit,” said De Villiers after finally making it to the bivouac in Arequipa. “So, we kept a close eye on all the systems, and it wasn’t long before we knew we were in trouble. We stopped and tried to affect our own repairs, but in the end, we had to wait for assistance.”
The eventful 331km special stage was won by 13-time Dakar champion Stephane Peterhansel in an X-Raid Mini who arrived at the Arequipa finish 3min 26sec ahead of two-time Dakar champion Al-Attiyah in a Gazoo Toyota Hilux, and 11min 47sec in front of Mini team-mate Jakub Przygonski (Poland).
It leaves Al-Attiyah with a 6min 48sec advantage over Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al-Rajhi in a Mini, with Frenchman Peterhansel third overall and 7min 03sec off the lead.
“The stage today was extremely difficult,” said Al-Attiyah after reaching the bivouac in the Peruvian town of Arequipa. “We crossed many big dunes, and in my experience, this was one of the toughest stages I’ve seen on the Dakar.”
The Peruvian desert delivered drama on stage three as last year's winner Carlos Sainz also saw his chances of defending the title effectively end after a crash that damaged the front suspension of his X-Raid Mini. The Spaniard spent over three hours repairing the car, which dropped him to 36th overall with little hope of repeating last year's victory with Peugeot.
Multiple world rally champion Sebastian Loeb, who won Tuesday's second stage in a privately-entered Peugeot, had a troubled day on Wednesday in which he got lost in the fog while opening the road for the other competitors. The Frenchman ended 42 minutes behind the winner and is eighth overall.
The motorcycle category was also shaken up when overnight leader Joan Barreda (Honda) from Spain retired for the second consecutive year after getting stuck in the stage. Frenchman Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) won the stage ahead of Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), with Argentina’s Kevin Benavides (Honda) third. Quintanilla now leads overall, 11 min 23 sec in front of Benavides.
The top South African rider, Kenneth Gilbert on a Husqvarna, is in 27th place while his countryman Stuart Gregory (KTM) is 72nd out of 124 riders.
Today’s marathon 405km stage takes competitors from Arequipa to Moquegua. The rally ends in Lima on January 17.
STAGE 3 RESULTS:
- Peterhansel / Castera (MINI)
- Al Attiyah / Baumel (TOYOTA) +03:26
- Przygkonski / Colsoul (MINI) +11:47
- Al Rajhi / Gottschalk (MINI) +12:50
- Roma / Haro (MINI) +18:12
- Despres / Cottret (MINI) +28:04
- Ten Brinke / Panseri (TOYOTA) +31:45
- Domzala / Marton (TOYOTA) +33:16
- Prokop / Tomanek (Ford) +34:39
- Vanagas / Rozwadowski (TOYOTA) +39:24
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 3:
- Al Attiyah / Baumel (TOYOTA)
- Al Rajhi / Gottschalk (MINI) +06:48
- Peterhansel / Castera (MINI) +07:03
- Roma / Haro (MINI) +12:02
- Przygonski / Colsoul (MINI) +13:45
- Despres / Cottret (MINI) +24:40
- Ten Brinke / Panseri (TOYOTA) +25:21
- Loeb / Elena (Peugeot) +37:59
- Domzala / Marton (TOYOTA) +42:56
- Vanagas / Rozwadowski (TOYOTA) +49:20