Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Giniel de Villiers hit a rock on the 331 km third stage of Dakar 2019, cracking the sump of his Hilux and losing some four-and-a-half hours after starting the day in first place.

Mini driver Stephane Peterhansel won the stage to move into third place overall. But it was De Villiers’ teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah who regained the overall lead after posting the second-fastest time on the day.

While De Villiers set good times early in the stage, disaster stuck at the 172 km mark when he hit a rock hidden in the sand. Toyota says the impact destroyed the Hilux’s sump guard and cracked the sump, resulting in a loss of oil pressure.

“We knew that we’d had a big hit,” De Villiers said. “So, we kept a close eye on all the systems, and it wasn’t long before we knew we were in trouble. We stopped and tried to affect our own repairs, but in the end, we had to wait for assistance.”

“For now, all we can do is to keep racing. Yes, we’ve lost a ton of time, but the Dakar is never over until it’s over. We’ll keep pushing and supporting our teammates,” said De Villiers, who fell to 40th overall.

Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, lost even more time after damaging the front wheel of his Mini. Toyota’s Bernhard ten Brinke set the seventh-fastest time on Stage 3, putting him in the same position overall.

“It was a day of mixed results for us,” said Glyn Hall, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team principal. “Of course, we are extremely disappointed with the time that Giniel and Dirk lost, but we are also very pleased with Nasser and Mathieu ’s performance. Bernhard and Xavier did a great job today, and are well placed for tomorrow’s marathon stage.”

The latter will see crews attempt to complete the stage and return via the next (fifth) stage without any support from their technical teams. Stage 4 measures 351 km while Stage 5 is 450 km long.

Interestingly, four Mini crews completed Stage 3 inside the top five, while five find themselves inside the top six overall after day three.

Stage 3 results:

1. Peterhansel (Mini)
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota): +03:26
3. Przygkonski (Mini): +11:47
4. Al Rajhi (Mini): +12:50
5. Roma (Mini): +18:12
6. Despres (Mini): +28:04
7. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +31:45
8. Domzala (Toyota): +33:16
9. Prokop (Ford): +34:39
10. Vanagas (Toyota): +39:24

Overall standings:

1. Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
2. Al Rajhi (Mini): +06:48
3. Peterhansel (Mini): +07:03
4. Roma (Mini): +12:02
5. Przygonski (Mini): +13:45
6. Despres (Mini): +24:40
7. Ten Brinke (Toyota): +25:21
8. Loeb (Peugeot): +37:59
9. Domzala (Toyota): +42:56
10. Vanagas (Toyota): +49:20