Krzysztof Holowczyc took the lead of the Dakar Rally as his X-raid Mini teammate Nani Roma won the third stage of the event to climb to fourth.
Polish driver Holowczyc started the day third, 2m33s off the lead, and had a steady run through the stage from San Rafael to San Juan in Argentina, winding up second fastest, 1m09s slower than Roma. That was enough, however, to move him into the top spot, 54 seconds clear of Robby Gordon, who was fifth quickest on Tuesday in the Hummer run by his own squad.
X-raid team leader Stephane Peterhansel, who held a 2m28s advantage at the head of the field after stage two, again began strongly and was fastest at the first two checkpoints of the 129-mile stage. But the Frenchman hit trouble during the final 50 miles, sustaining two punctures and dropping over six minutes to Roma and five to Holowczyc. This caused the nine-time Dakar winner to drop to fifth overall, 2m41s off the lead.
Giniel de Villiers was fourth quickest in his Toyota and climbed a spot to third overall thanks to Peterhansel's misfortune. He is now only 10 seconds ahead of Roma.
Last year's winner Nasser Al-Attiyah continued to gain ground. Although he did not move up from his overnight sixth place, the Qatari driver reduced his deficit to the leader by over two minutes and now lies 6m47s adrift.
Leading positions after stage three:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Krzysztof Holowczyc Mini 5h51m06s
2. Robby Gordon Hummer + 54s
3. Giniel de Villiers Toyota + 1m40s
4. Nani Roma Mini + 1m50s
5. Stephane Peterhansel Mini + 2m41s
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah Hummer + 6m34s
7. Leonid Novitskiy Mini + 14m53s
8. Lucio Alvarez Toyota + 20m39s
9. Carlos Sousa Great Wall + 21m46s
10. Erik Wevers Mitsubishi + 26m06s