Nasser Al-Attiyah took his second stage win in three days to climb up the overall standings of the 2018 Dakar Rally, while Stephane Peterhansel’s second place gave the thirteen-time winner the overall lead.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Al-Attiyah had taken the opening stage win on Saturday but was untouchable on Monday on the 296-kilometre stage between Pisco and San Juan de Marcona, winning it in a time of three hours, nine minutes and eight seconds, more than four minutes clear of Peugeot Sport’s Peterhansel.
With overnight leader Cyril Despres finishing the stage fourth fastest, it meant Peterhansel took over the lead of the rally by three minutes and eleven seconds, while Al-Attiyah moved up to third, seven minutes and forty-three seconds adrift after his poor second stage on Sunday.
In-between Peterhansel and Despres at the end of the stage was their fellow Peugeot racer Carlos Sainz Sr., while Sebastien Loeb made it a quartet of drivers from the French manufacturer in fifth, although the Frenchman lost eight minutes and thirty-four seconds to Al-Attiyah.
Giniel de Villiers and Bernhard ten Brinke finished sixth and seventh for Toyota, while Martin Prokop (Ford), Jakub Przygonski (Mini) and Lucio Álvarez (Toyota) completed the top ten.
Przygonski’s position inside the top ten was the only highlight for Mini, with Nani Roma rolling his Mini John Cooper Works Rally car one kilometre from the end of the stage and lost twenty-six minutes, but the Spaniard needed medical attention after the conclusion with head and cervical trauma that is likely to see the end of his rally.
Mikko Hirvonen also fell out of contention after being forced to stop for repairs, with the Finn losing over two hours to the stage winner.
Defending champion Sam Sunderland took his second win of the 2018 Dakar Rally to retake the overall lead as overnight leader Joan Barreda endured a tough day in the sand dunes of Peru.
KTM rider Sunderland, who had dropped to fourth after Sunday’s second stage, won stage three with a time of three hours, twenty minutes and forty-three seconds, and despite mid-stage pressure from team-mate Toby Price and Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla, he prevailed at the end by three minutes and three seconds from Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides.
Price had looked to have minimised the damage by finishing third, but the Australian was handed a post-stage five-minute penalty that dropped him to tenth overall, promoting Honda’s Ricky Brabec up to third and Quintanilla to fourth, with the Chilean ultimately losing four minutes and twenty seconds to Sunderland.
Gerard Farrés led a trio of KTM riders ahead of team-mates Štefan Svitko and Antoine Meo in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, but the biggest stories of the day were the loss of time for both Barreda and Adrian van Beveren, the top two in the field overnight.
A late navigation error cost Honda rider Barreda dearly, with the Spaniard losing twenty-seven minutes and forty-nine seconds to Sunderland to fall to fifteenth overall, while Yamaha’s van Beveren lost thirteen minutes and eleven seconds to drop to seventh.
Ignacio Casale remains unbeaten in the 2018 Dakar Rally after the Chilean dominated stage three, and he was the only rider to finish the stage in under four hours on the day, eight minutes and fifty-five seconds clear of fellow Yamaha rider Alexis Hernández.
The top sixteen were all Yamaha riders, with Pablo Copetti finishing third, albeit fourteen minutes and fifty-two seconds down on Casale, while Marcelo Medeiros was a further seven seconds back in fourth ahead of Gustavo Gallego.
Casale now leads the rally by twenty-six minutes and thirteen seconds from Sergei Kariakin, who lost twenty-four minutes and thirty seconds on the day, while Copetti is a further thirty seconds back in third.
Federico Villagra took the honours on day three in the trucks class, with the Argentine driver, alongside Iveco co-driver Adrián Yacopini and mechanic Ricardo Torlaschi, finishing thirty-five seconds clear of his Kamaz rival Eduard Nikolaev.
Ayrat Mardeev was the only other driver to get within five minutes of the pacesetter, with the Russian Kamaz driver ending four minutes and nine seconds adrift, while fourth placed Martin Macík was thirteen minutes and eighteen seconds down on Villagra.
Overall, Nikolaev continues to lead the rally by eight minutes and fifty-eight seconds from Villagra, but third placed Belarusian driver Aliaksei Vishneuski is fifty-two minutes and thirty-four seconds back.
Just six of the eleven drivers who started the rally remain in the UTV class, and it was Juan Uribe Ramos who took stage honours on Monday, with the Peruvian more than seventeen minutes clear of the rest of the field on board his Can-Am.
Patricie Garrouste was the best of the rest in second for Polaris, while third placed Claudio Fournier, also of Polaris was forty-two minutes and twelve seconds back ahead of team-mate Anibal Aliaga and Can-Am’s Reinaldo Varela, while José Peña Campos brought up the rear.
Overall, Ramos holds an advantage of forty-five minutes and forty-five seconds heading into Tuesday’s fourth stage, with Aliaga third, one hour, fifty-one minutes and twenty-eight seconds behind!