Dakar - Two Toyotas sandwich four Peugeots
Nasser Al Attiyah has delivered a crushing Dakar Stage 3 win for Toyota — the Qatari beat the fastest of the Peugeots by a significant four minutes and five seconds to sound a loud warning from Toyota that 2018 will not be another Peugeot cakewalk on the run between Peruvian ports Pisco and San Juan de Marcona.
Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel led the Peugeot throng ahead of teammates, Spain's Carlos Sainz and Frenchmen Cyril Despres and Sebastien Loeb fourth from South African Dakar hero Giniel de Villiers closing the Toyota sandwich in sixth. Bernhard ten Brinke brought the third Gazoo Hilux home in seventh place ahead of Martin Prokop's SA-built Ford enjoying another strong day, Jakub Przygonski in the best of the Minis and Lucio Alvarez and SA navigator Rob Howie's Hilux, which continued in the race in spite of being reported to have retired by Toyota this morning.
Mini's Dakar tale of woe continued as Nani Roma had a spectacular accident less than a kilometre from the finish line, while Mikko Hirvonen lost almost two hours in the stage. Roma however managed to get his buckled car to the finish. Of other South African interest, TreasuryOne Amarok privateers Hennie de Kerk and Gerhard Schutte were having a steady run around their 32nd position starting place after Checkpoint 5 as we wrote - come back later to learn of their final position.
Al Attiyah’s second stage win of three saw him scramble up the overall leaderboard from fifth to third behind Peterhansel and Despres and ahead of Loeb, de Villiers and Sainz, with the top six now split by less than 15 minutes.
Brit Sam Sunderland rode his KTM to the Dakar Day 3 bike win, 3 minutes clear of Argentine Kevin Benevides’ Honda, with Aussie Toby Price's KTM third ahead of US Rider Ricky Brabec's Honda, erstwhile leader Pablo Quintanilla's Husqvarna and Gerard Farres-Guell next up on a KTM, after several riders including frontrunners Walkner, Barreda and de Soultrait lost time when they wrong-slotted.
The action and drama was fraught among the motorcycle front runners with Sunderland, Price and Quintanilla all three leading at some point this morning. Quintanilla had opened up a handy lead over Sunderland, Benevides, Soultrait and Price by the penultimate CP6, but he lost 6 minutes on the last stretch to drop to fifth by the finish.
Overall Sunderland now leads the two-wheeler race by 4 minutes 38 seconds over Benavides, Quintania, Price, Brabec and Walkner. The South African bikers had a mixed day, with Donovan van der Langeberg (KTM) the leading South African biker in 61st today, having passed David Thomas (Husqvarna) late in the day. Thomas ended up 65th today while Willem du Toit was 69th at the finish. Gerrie van der Byl and Wessel Bosman were still racing in 112th and 113th at CP5. Thomas now lies 60th overall, van de Langeberg 68th and du Toit 70th.
Argentina’s Ignacio Casale has meanwhile delivered a clean sweep of quad stage wins aboard his Yamaha, today beating Peruvian Aexis Hernandes, who put one on the bridesmaid so far, Russian Sergey Kariyakin.
Monday proved a significantly less dramatic day than Sunday's wild Day 2, which saw the demise of several leading teams among many more. The interest was centred on the bike dice at first before Nasser Al Attiyah set tongues wagging with his Peugeot-beating pace.
Tuesday’s fourth Dakar stage sees competitors tackling a 444km loop around San Juan de Marcona starting with a 114km liaison section leading down to the beachside start of a 330km blast into and around the foothills of the Andes for the first taste of altitude reaching just over 2km above sea level with a little less sand and a little more gravel and stone driving. Follow it a via TreasuryOne’s Live Blog at www.motorsortmedia.co.za.