The third stage of Dakar had drivers remain in Wadi Ad-Dawasir for a 403 km special at altitudes of around 1 000 metres above sea level. Complicating the stage for some competitors was the intense heat and harsh windy conditions.
Due to the wind, the waving sands of the desert removed any traces of tracks which hampered navigation accuracy for the likes of Carlos Sainz. Because of this, the Dakar veteran finished the stage in 21st position with a variance of 31 minutes and 2 seconds.
Rising above the complications of the course was Toyota Gazoo’s Nasser Al-Attiyah finishing first and, more impressively, South Africa’s very own 26 year-old Henk Lategan who crossed the line in second place. Not far behind him was Mini X-Raid’s Stéphane Peterhansel.
Dakar veteran Bernhard Ten Brinke was on course to finish in fourth place but 50 km before the end, he suffered a crushing blow after rolling and damaging his Hilux.
With his third special stage success of the year, including the prologue loop near Jeddah, Al-Attiyah now boasts a total of 38 victories. With such a score, he again moves ahead of his rival Sainz in the Dakar history books, this time for the number of stage wins in the car category, though it remains to be seen whether he will exceed his number of titles.
Fairing a bit better this stage after a rough start was Sebastien Loeb in his Bahrain Raid X who finished in sixth place behind Fasir Seaidan in the SRT and Sheikh Khalid Al Qassim in his Peugeot.
With this stage, the Qatari was faced with the tough task of opening the way but he skilfully avoided the navigational pitfalls. Despite his three victories this year, Al-Attiyah is still a certain distance behind Stéphane Peterhansel who has 47, which is still three less than the record holder in the category, Ari Vatanen with 50 stage triumphs.
Stage four will continue from Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Riyadh with a 476 km liaison and 337 km stage.
1. Al-Attiyah (Toyota)
2. Lategan (Toyota): +02:27
3. Peterhansel (Mini): +04:05
4. Seaidan (SRT): +07:09
5. Al Qassimi (Peugeot): +12:31
6. Loeb (BRX): +13:14
7. Prokop (Ford): +13:42
8. Serradori (SRT): +16:05
9. Han (Hanwei): +17:49
10. Despres (Peugeot): +19:05
1. Peterhansel (Mini)
2. Al-Attiyah (Toyota): +05:19
3. Serradori (SRT): +26:21
4. Sainz (Mini): +33:34
5. Przygonski (Toyota): +44:22
6. Loeb (BRX): +45:49
7. Lategan (Toyota): +47:25
8. Seaidan (SRT): +51:50
9. Al Qassimi (Peugeot): +52:08
10. Prokop (Ford): +56:30