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Dakar 2018: Sunderland regains control on day three

Published: 08 January 2018

Stage 3 - Pisco to San Juan De Marcona 296km timed special stage, 208km liaison

In what could turn out to be a significant day on Dakar, Brit Sam Sunderland exceeded expectations by winning the stage despite starting from seventh position. The factory KTM rider was the primary beneficiary of a mistake by Joan Barreda (Honda) Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) and Matthias Walkner (KTM) who all made a significant navigational error early on in the 296km stage.

The result means that Sunderland, who had dropped to fourth overall in the standings after stage two, is now back on top after the third stage that ran from Pisco to San Juan De Marcona. And while his lead is anything but unassailable, it’s useful minutes and not seconds with him now leading Argentinian Honda rider Kevin Benavides by 4m 38s.

Speaking to MCN, Sunderland said: “To be honest I was hoping to catch up even more time because there was a lot of off-piste but I made a few mistakes. In the first part of the stage I was pretty fast, but in the second part I got lost twice and had a crash. 

“So far it’s been good to win two out of the three stages, but I’d rather not win a stage but win the race. It’s good to be at the front and fast, but we’ve got a long way to go. These first few days have been heavy, tough navigation and really physical riding. It’s tiring. Because we were over lapping with yesterday’s stage there are a lot of tracks so you’re following cap headings only as the road book doesn’t really seem to make much sense at times. I’m just trying not to get too stressed about it when the navigation gets difficult and just work through it.

“I’m pretty annoyed with myself about the crash, I basically missed a drop off. Dangers aren’t marked when you’re off-piste, I saw it coming and I braked for it but the sand was hard packed and I just slid instead of it gripping and I went off the edge. It wasn’t a super big one, but I’m angry at myself for doing it because it could have been a big. Physically I’m sore of course but that is to be expected. My wrists hurt a bit from the crash, but this is Dakar and it’s all part of the fun!”

Tomorrows stage runs from San Juan De Marcona to San Juan De Marcona and features a 114km liaison and a 330km timed special stage which includes a stretch of dunes over 100km long. It is also a mass start meaning rows of 15 bikes will set off at the same time with each row being separated by five minutes. 

Stage 3 results

  1. Sam Sunderland           GBR                 KTM                 3h20m43s
  2. Kevin Benavides           ARG                 Honda              +3m 03s
  3. Toby Price                    AUS                  KTM                 +3m 28s
  4. Ricky Brabec                USA                  Honda              +3m 55s
  5. Pablo Quintanilla         CHL                  Husqvarna       +4m 20s
  6. Gerard Farres               ESP                  KTM                 +5m 08s
  7. Stefan Svitko                 SVK                  KTM                 +6m 03s
  8. Antoine Meo                FRA                  KTM                 +6m 23s
  9. Ignacio Cornejo            CHL                  Honda              +7m 06s
  10. Walter Nosiglia            BOL                 KTM                 +8m 27s

 Overall results at the end of stage 3

  1. Sam Sunderland          GBR                 KTM                 6:44.23
  2. Kevin Benavides          ARG                 Honda              +4.38
  3. Pablo Quintanilla        CHI                  Husqvarna       +5.00
  4. Toby Price                   AUS                  KTM                 +7.28
  5. Ricky Brabec               USA                  Honda              +8.00
  6. Matthias Walkner       AUT                 KTM                 +8.50
  7. Adrien Van Beveren    FRA                  Yamaha           +10.37
  8. Antoine Meo               FRA                  KTM                 +10.54
  9. Michael Metge           GBR                 Honda              +11.32
  10. Franco Caimi               ARG                 Yamaha           +13.02

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