If dodging boulders was the story on the opening two stages of the 2023 Dakar Rally, then it was rain which dominated the race on day three. As the Dakar convoy travelled from Alula to Ha’il they found the last 100km of the race track washed away. Even the shortened stage still measured 377km and there was more than enough racing to shake up the leaderboards.
Nasser Al-Attiyah performed a miraculous mathematical equation at the front of the car race. He started the day over two minutes behind overall leader Carlos Sainz and he finished day three more than 10 minutes back from stage winner Guerlain Chicherit. But with that result, Al-Attiyah took the overall lead of the car race for himself. The Qatari and co-driver Mathieu Baumel now hold an advantage of nearly 15 minutes over their nearest rival. Eureka!
Part of the reason that Al-Attiyah was able to forge ahead at the top of the leaderboard on Stage Three was the misfortune suffered by Carlos Sainz. El Matador and his co-driver Lucas Cruz were halted for almost half an hour in their Audi RS Q e-tron E2 on the way to Ha’il.
Team Audi Sport do still have one race crew inside the Top 3, 14-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Edouard Boulanger sit third overall.
“For me the conditions were OK to carry on with the stage. The ground was wet but there wasn’t much mud, just at the end.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
The fabulous Dakar debut of Lucas Moraes continued on Stage Three and the Brazilian has now brought his Toyota Hilux into the overall Top 10 alongside experienced co-driver Timo Gottschalk.
The good news also continued for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich on Stage Three. There was a stage win for AJ Jones while Seth Quintero took the overall lead of the T3 category following Mitch Guthrie Jr.’s stage win yesterday.
Quintero/Dennis Zenz hold an overall lead of minute while Guthrie/Kellon Walch are third in the T3 general classification, one place ahead of Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin.
“I’m stoked we’re now leading the overall! Hoping to continue our consistency throughout the rest of the rally. It’s game on!” – Seth Quintero
The highlight for Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing on Stage Three was Rokas Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Mena’s third place in the T4 rankings. This result moves the duo up to fourth overall in the T4 race.
Taking charge of the bike race on Stage Three was Daniel Sanders of Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing. The 28-year-old Australian biker – known in the bivouac as Chucky – has been riding smart over the first three days of this Dakar and his reward is second place overall.
“The idea was to win the stage by catching the guys in front and it’s worked out really well.” – Daniel Sanders
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are also represented in the overall bike race Top 3 thanks to the performances of Kevin Benavides. The 2021 Dakar winner is less than five minutes behind Sanders and will likely chip away some of that time on tomorrow’s stage.
“It was wet in different places because of the rain. This made things a little bit more complicated today.” – Kevin Benavides
Benavides is joined inside the Top 10 by team-mates and former Dakar winners Toby Price and Matthias Walkner. Placed 25th overall is Camille Chapelièrewho found today’s terrain much more suited to his riding style compared with the rocky roads of stages one and two.
“The stage started sandy and fast, this is what I like. I was pushing really hard and one by one I caught the riders in front of me. I’m happy to get a good day after two tough stages to open this rally.” – Camille Chapelière
After today’s downpour, Stage Four will turn up the heat with 425km against the clock. The loop stage around the Ha’il bivouac starts with a chain of dunes measuring over 100km and also features navigational pitfalls throughout.