DAKAR: Peterhansel wins Stage 3 as Toyotas falter

2017-01-05 00:53:06

Defending Dakar Rally champion Stéphane Peterhansel took a Stage 3 win Wednesday on the route leading to San Salvador de Jujuy, leading Carlos Sainz and Sébastien Loeb in a 1-2-3 for Peugeot on the day's special stage. But the story of the day was the trouble that befell Toyota teammates Nasser Al-Attiyah and teamamte Giniel de Villiers.

Despite starting three minutes after Loeb, Al-Attiyah – winner of the first stage and runner-up in Stage 2 – passed him for the overall race lead (wiping away Loeb's 28-second advantage) in the opening miles and was the first driver to complete the first portion of the special, with a lead of 3m48s over the Frenchman with Peterhansel two minutes behind and Al-Attiyah's teammate de Villiers nine minutes back. But during the second part of the stage Al-Attiyah was forced to stop about 250 miles in after a crash tore off one of his wheels. De Villiers also had to stop at that point for lengthy repairs. Both drivers eventually returned after long delays; de Villiers finished 36 minutes behind. Al-Attiyah's hopes of an overall win appear dim after he finished 2 hours and 17 minutes behind.

"Game over... a bad day," , Al-Attiyah said. "It was bad luck. We hit the other side on big stone and we broke the wheel completely. We decided to use some rocks and the wheel to make the up the balance, but we had to drive 80 kilometers like this. We stopped to repair, but we could not. We don't have all the parts, you know. The T4 was still very far away but we decided to continue until the finish.

"It was a mistake, but a mistake is a mistake, you know. It's bad luck, but this is the race; this is how the Dakar is, you know. We were doing a really good job, we were leading, but there you go ... I don't think the goal is even to finish. We'll see if there is really big damage to the chassis or something, and we'll see with the team and what they decide. First we need to check our car. It would be nice to win this race again with a Toyota, but I think that... it's just bad luck. It will be a long year to wait. But we are here now at the finish and we'll see what we can do with the car."

Loeb maintains the overall lead by 42 seconds, followed by Sainz. Peterhansel is just over four minutes behind.

In the motorcycle class, HRC rider Joan Barreda reaching the first time checkpoint with a 20-minute lead over Stage 2 winner Toby Price. The Australian lost the overall lead to Barreda. The first major stage saw at least nine bikers withdraw.

"Today was one of the days that we picked and we prepared for it from yesterday to attack," Barreda said. "It was a really tough stage but I kept my focus during all the stage."

In the quad race, Gastón González took his first stage victory and moved to second in the overall standings behind the new leader and the day's runner-up, Ignacio Casale.

In the truck category, Eduard Nikolaev gave Kamaz their first victory this year, 48 seconds better than Tatra driver Martin Kolomy, who maintains a 33-second overall lead.

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