Dakar Stage 3: Dakar rookie Matthias Walkner takes stage win, Sunderland back in the mix

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In only his third ever Dakar stage, Austrian Matthias Walkner secured a convincing victory, taking the honours ahead of four time Dakar winner Marc Coma. The young Austrian may be new to Dakar but he is already a world class rider and MX3 Motocross World Champion.

Walkner beat Coma by 40 seconds after 2 hours and 34minutes of riding. The result escalates him up the leader board to third overall.

He said: “I had a good feeling when I got to the finish because I knew I had a good day. But at the end I was a bit tired and wasn’t concentrating so well and I made some small mistakes. It is an amazing feeling to win the stage and for sure I didn’t expect this. It will be difficult to open the piste tomorrow. Now for the rest of the rally I just want to enjoy every kilometer, to learn and to stay focused on the road book so I don’t make many mistakes.”

Stage two winner and overall race leader Joan Barreda put in another impressive performance on his factory Honda. The Spaniard lost over 1m 13s to Coma but retains control of the race.

He said: “It was a stage where you really had to have your wits about you. Marc could have made up a lot of time, if I had made any navigational errors. The final part was full of stones, broken track, and many traps, so you had to be really careful with both the riding and the navigation. I kept up a good pace, and I felt pretty good, but I thought it was better not to take any risks in the final section”

Australian Toby Price, another Dakar rookie, showed his desire to be a frontrunner, finishing fourth on the stage.

Brit Sam Sunderland  began his comeback after his disastrous stage two with an impressive 11th place which moves him up into 50th overall. The young Brit got seriously lost on stage two finishing 72nd, but exploited the rule that allows seeded riders to start in the top 16 the following day despite his lowly stage result. The rule is designed with safety in mind to prevent fast riders starting the stage mid pack where they would be constantly overtaking.

Sunderland is still 2 hours 28 minutes behind the leaders meaning that the pressure is essentially off. He will however be focused on making amends for his mistakes and will no doubt have more stage wins in mind.

Llewelyn Pavey continued to make a name for himself in his first ever Dakar finishing the stage in 82nd place a result that escalates him up to 77th overall. His father, Simon, claimed 92nd and now sits 79th in the standings. Having survived the brutal stage two, Chris Cork had a strong stage three to finish 114th. A result that moves him up to 121st with 139 riders still in the race.


Stage 3

1, Matthias Walkner, Austria, KTM, 2 hours 34.28
2, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM at 00.40
3, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 1.53
4, Toby Price, AUS, KTM at 2.45
5, Paolo Goncalves, POR, Honda at 2.49
6, Alain Duclos, FRA, Sherco, at 3.11
7, Ruben Faria, POR, KTM, at 3.24
8, Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHI, Honda at 4.02
9, Jordi Viladoms, ESP, KTM, at 4.36
10, Joan Pedrero, ESP, Yamaha, at 5.21

11, Sam Sunderland, GBR, KTM, at 5.23
82, Llewelyn Pavey, AUS, KTM at 55.37
92 Simon Pavey, AUS, KTM at 1:12.03
114 Chris Cork, GBR, Husqvarna at 1:35.41

Overall Standings after Stage 3

1, Barreda 9:43.05
2, Goncalves, at 5.33
3, Walkner at 10.33
4, Coma at 10.50
5, Faria at 12.10
6, Price at 12.24
7, Viladoms at 14.07
8, Israel-Esquerre at 18.33
9, Rodrigues at 18.34
10, Pedrero at 23.02

50, Sunderland at 2:28.37
77, Llewelyn Pavey at 4:15.22
79, Simon Pavey at 4:25.44
121, Cork at 7:46.49

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider