Nasser Al-Attiyah won his first stage of this year's Dakar Rally on Tuesday, though his Volkswagen teammate Carlos Sainz still holds the event's overall lead.
Al-Attiyah had started the day third, also trailing Stephane Peterhansel's BMW, but quickly caught Sainz and trailed the Spaniard home to record a 25-second advantage and his ninth career Dakar stage win. But the Qatari was not content with the stage victory, complaining about a loss of engine power during the day.
"I'm very disappointed," he said. "We had exactly the same problem as yesterday. We completely lost power after 200km. I don't know why. That's three days the same thing has happened.
"I gained 1m30sec on Carlos in the first part, but I lost my lead on the technical section where you must always use first, second and third gear. We must fix the problem. I don't care about our time or the special stage victory. Tomorrow there will be dunes and soft sand and that will be a problem."
Sainz, meanwhile, was satisfied with his second place.
"I'm more or less happy with my day," related the Spaniard. "We lost a minute and a half to Nasser by the end of the first section, but in the end we made up most of the time lost by pushing more on the last section where there was less navigation."
Peterhansel finished another half minute behind Sainz and has now fallen more than four minutes behind the leader. Giniel de Villiers remains fourth, now 17 minutes off the lead, while Krzysztof Holowczyc closed in on him with the fourth-fastest time of the stage. Home driver Orlando Terranova remains sixth after the last of the Argentinean special stages.
Team Hummer's Robby Gordon made up some of the time he lost in the opening two stages, although more mechanical issues cropped up to slow his comeback. Starting the day in 21st overall, Gordon finished the stage in 15th, and is now 17th overall.
"We keep putting ourselves behind the eight ball. We passed a bunch of cars early in the special, but then realized we had lost a transmission pump," said a frustrated Gordon. "Today's special would have been good for the Hummer had we not had a mechanical issue. The route had some very technical, rough stuff in the beginning, and it would have been good for us."
Stage three results:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen 3h42m20s
2. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen +24s
3. Stephane Peterhansel BMW +59s
4. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW +5m30s
5. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen +5m53s
6. Mark Miller Volkswagen +9m35s
7. Leonid Novitskiy BMW +10m27s
8. Orlando Terranova BMW +10m27s
9. Guerlain Chicherit Mini +13m26s
10. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi +18m20s
1. Carlos Sainz Volkswagen 9h12m05s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Volkswagen + 3m34s
3. Stephane Peterhansel BMW + 4m19s
4. Giniel de Villiers Volkswagen + 16m57s
5. Krzysztof Holowczyc BMW + 21m49s
6. Orlando Terranova BMW + 29m07s
7. Leonid Novitskiy BMW + 39m05s
8. Guilherme Spinelli Mitsubishi + 48m22s
9. Nani Roma Nissan + 54m53s
10. Christian Lavieille Nissan + 57m55s