After the drama that befell many competitors yesterday, the 2013 Dakar rally moved on with a 247km day today. The action comprised of a 4km connecting stage, before the racers tackled a 243km special. Today’s stage was widely expected among many to be one of the toughest days on this year’s rally, and it was no surprise that soon once more, various competitors were having difficulties.
Bikes: Despres shows his experience
Cyril Despres has taken the lead of the bikes category today, after using his vast amount of experience to guide him through the stage safely, as others got into difficulty. Amongst the early casualties was yesterday’s star performer, Joan Barreda Bort. Barreda Bort hit trouble early on into proceedings and would eventually lose just over 29 minutes.
Also in difficulties were two of the other strong performances from yesterday, Juan Pedrero Garcia and Australian Matt Fish, both of whom lost vital time negotiating dunes. Barreda Bort and Fish were the biggest losers from today’s action however, with them dropping to 18th and 31st in the overall classification respectively.
With riders ahead of him all hitting issues, Despres made up ground setting the fastest time at the 29km checkpoint. However, he would not have his own way. Francisco Lopez continued his strong form and completed the 243km special in the fastest time of two hours, 37 minutes and 54 seconds, beating Paulo Goncalves by one minutes and eight seconds. Despres posted the third fastest time but was eventually four minutes and eight seconds off the pace of Lopez despite his strong start.
However, Despres’ performance today was enough to move him up into the lead of the bikes category. He now leads with an advantage of two minutes and 51 seconds over Lopez, with Pål Ullevålseter completing the overall top three after day three, just under five minutes behind Despres.
“I had a fairly good special. Nothing out of the ordinary, but I think I made significant progress in the general classification today,” Despres said. “I started in 12th place but I soon caught up with the leaders and I was at the front of the race from km 190 onwards. Considering that I started 20 minutes after Barreda and Pedrero, I think I did quite well!”
After a strong performance today, Olivier Pain and David Casteu complete the top five, the two split by only five seconds.
Quads: Patronelli continues to lead the way
Marcos Patronelli was another to win his second stage of this year’s Dakar in fine style. The Argentine encountered none of the troubles of the leaders on the road that shook up the bike standings leading throughout the stage, completing the route three-and-a-half minutes faster than Dutchman Sebastian Husseini.
“It was a beautiful stage, not unlike yesterday’s. It also had lots of stones and cobbles towards the end. The tyres didn’t enjoy it. I had a flat 30-40 kilometres from the finish. But everything went well. I’m happy with the stage. I feel fine. The quad’s in perfect working order. It was a great day,” the leader said.
The Honda rider proved to the only man capable of living with Patronelli’s pace on stage. Rafal Sonik, the third fastest man through the route a full 15 minutes down on Patronelli, though he still moved into fourth overall.
His fellow Pole – Lukasz Laskawiec was fourth fastest, ahead of Gaston Gonzalez, who also occupies fifth in the overall standings.
Cars: Plenty of drama.
There was drama in the car category before the competitors had even begun to tackle the stage today. Officials decided to deduct the time that Carlos Sainz lost through a malfunctioning GPS device that was caused by the satellites organisers use for the event. He was therefore reinstated into the lead and held a five minute and five second advantage over Stephane Peterhansel.
However, this set back didn’t deter former leader Peterhansel, who posted the fastest time 29km into proceedings, with Nasser Al-Attiyah being Peterhansel’s closest challenger 12 seconds back. Sainz once more lost time and was 35 seconds off the pace at this stage. However, it was looking to be a strong run from Robby Gordon, who, after two difficult days, finally showed some form with a top five time.
The dunes once more were claiming victims further back, with as many as ten vehicles running into difficulties, including Tim Coronel and Eric Vigouroux‘s pick-up Chevrolet.
Al-Attiyah was showing good form and posted the fastest time by the next checkpoint, with Gordon and Sainz completing the top three. Peterhansel was having a strong, if not spectacular, run in fifth.
The stage’s first big name casualty was that of Krzysztof Hołowczyc who is reported to have crashed heavily 40km into the stage. Rescue teams were quickly on the scene and aiding the Polish driver, who was airlifted to hospital complaining of pain to his back and ribs.
Meanwhile, it was Al-Attiyah who claimed his first stage win of 2013, beating Gordon by one minute and eighteen seconds. Peterhansel posted the third fastest time to retake the overall lead and now has an advantage over Al-Attiyah of 6 minutes and 23 seconds.
“We won the stage and clawed four minutes back from Stéphane. And it could have been even better, but we stopped for a couple of minutes to help Carlos. It looked like he was having problems with the electronics and the engine cut-out, and since we couldn’t do anything to about it, we kept going and didn’t see any more cars until the finish line. The sand was very soft today and I decided not to go flat out because the car’s very new and we still don’t know how far it can go. No problems so far,” Al-Attiyah reported.
Sainz meanwhile completed the stage thirty minutes off the pace in fourteenth, and moves down to fifth in the overall standings.
Trucks: de Rooy fastest once again.
Just as in the quad bike category, one man continues to dominate. Gerard de Rooy once again posted the fastest time today, completing the stage in two hours and 55 minutes. His time was one minute and 24 seconds faster than his nearest rival, Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev.
“Yes, everything has gone well so far, but a puncture could cost us 15 minutes whereas right now we’re only gaining 2 every day. Therefore, you can’t rule out anybody yet, and I continue drive really carefully to avoid the slighest mistake. This is what the challenge is all about: driving fast but within your limits,” a cautious de Rooy said.
Miki Biasion had a strong run once more to end the day third fastest in his Iveco, two minutes and 31 seconds off the pace of de Rooy.
After his disastrous day yesterday, de Rooy’s team mate Hans Stacey made up some ground, but was eight minutes off the pace by the end of the action.
Today’s result unsurprisingly means that de Rooy’s lead in the overall standings increases to almost seven minutes over Ales Loprais, who completed today’s stage in the fourth fastest time.
2013 Dakar Rally Stage Three results:
|1||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||02:55:58|
2013 Dakar Rally overall standings after stage three
|3||Pal Anders Ullevalseter||KTM||06:20:02||00:04:59|
|3||Ignacio Nicolas Casale||Yamaha||07:25:18||00:29:38|
|1||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||06:23:15|