We’re now three days down at the 2018 Dakar Rally and we’re deep into the deserts of Peru. What is shining through as bright as the South American sun are those competitors who have seen and done it all before. The bike, car, truck and quad races are all being led by previous winners of the Dakar as the convoy arrives in San Juan de Marcona.
Sam Sunderland (GBR) has won his second stage of this Dakar to regain the lead of the race which he had briefly lost to Joan Barreda (ESP). Spanish rider Barreda made a number of navigation mistakes on the Peruvian dunes as the bikers opened the stage three route. Sunderland ended up close to 30 minutes quicker that Barreda as the British biker took a big step towards defending his two-wheel title today.
“The Dakar’s like this, you have to try and be consistent every day. I’m a bit angry at myself for missing that drop at the end, but one drop out of a thousand is not so bad.” – Sam Sunderland
Sunderland’s fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Toby Price (AUS) also reaped the dividends of a great display on the path to San Juan de Marcona. The 2016 Dakar winner let rip after two days of cautious riding with third place on today’s stage lifting him to fourth overall.
“The pace is definitely here and we know we can still run at the front.” – Toby Price
The experience of 13-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) is coming to bare in the dunes of Peru. “Monsieur Dakar” took charge of the 296km timed special stage between Pisco and San Juan de Marcona to finish stage three on top of the car race general classification. Peterhansel caught up with Peugeot team-mate Cyril Despres (FRA) early in the stage and proceeded to take on the task of navigating from the front.
“We did not drive the stage on full attack, just with a good speed.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
The fastest car of the day belonged to Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and his second Dakar stage win of 2018 has propelled him to third place in the overall rankings. The Qatari had one tyre come out of the rim and suffered a puncture but was still able to close the gap to the leaders today, even if he would have liked to have made up even more time.
“There’s still a long way and we believe our Toyota Hilux is a good car and we’ll do our best like we did today.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
Five-time bike race winner Despres sits between Peterhansel and Al-Attiyah in second place in the car category. Peterhansel and Despres also have their Peugeot team-mates Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Sébastien Loeb (FRA) in touch with the top of the leaderboard along with the Toyota Hilux of Giniel De Villiers (ZAF).
“It’s really difficult to find a rhythm, because sometimes you gain confidence over very flowing flat dunes and then suddenly after three, four or five kilometres it’s one which is broken and you cannot see.” – Sébastien Loeb
Football manager André Villas-Boas (POR) is enjoying a great start to his Dakar debut and sits in 41st overall after three days of racing. Find out more about AVB and why the Dakar is in his blood.
There’s no denying the strong position that Kamaz trucker Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) has put himself in after three stages. Nikolaev is not only the defending truck race champion, but is chasing a third title as a driver. It’s so far, so good as he leads the truck category.
It’s hard to image how the 2018 Dakar could have started any better for quad biker Ignacio Casale (CHI). The Chilean former Dakar winner is head and shoulders above the competition as three stage wins have given him a gap of over 25 minutes between himself and his nearest rivals.
“I’ve been training hard for this race for a long time and I’m feeling the benefit of that now.” – Ignacio Casale
Tomorrow’s action starts down on the beach at San Juan de Marcona with the cars setting off in rows of four (Al-Attiyah and three Peugeots on the front row) and bikes heading out 15 at a time. The 330km timed special stage will loop the competitors back to the bivouac. Expect navigation errors to play their part in creating and reducing gaps at the front of the field once again.