Dakar stage 3: Complicated day blows race wide open

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San Juan to Arequipa 205 mile timed Special Stage with 290 mile liaison

The 2019 Dakar may be run over just ten stages and be covering considerably less miles than in  recent years, but it has lost none of its ability to bite. After what was a long and difficult stage two, the events of stage three blew the race apart in part due to heavy fog at poor visibility the start of the day.

Stage two winner Matthias Walkner and runner-up Ricky Brabec surrendered any advantage losing huge amounts of time early on in the 205 mile timed Special Stage.


But while current champion Walkner had a bad day he remains in the race unlike Monster Energy Honda rider Joan Barreda. The Spaniard is a 23 time stage winner, but his Dakar curse continued and he is out of this years race after dropping over a ledge in the fog and being unable to find a way back to the route.

At the end of the day, stage honours went to factory Yamaha man Xavier De Soultrait who bagged his first ever Dakar stage win ahead of Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla who now leads the overall standings.

Quintanilla said: “The real Dakar has just started and I’m happy with where I’m at right now. Today we had a difficult stage. There was a lot of fog and in some parts you couldn’t see far ahead. If you tried to push, you ended up missing the right tracks. I took my time there and rode really carefully. At one crucial point in the mountains I made the right decision and gained some time to my rivals."

Britain’s Sam Sunderland continued his measured approach to the race finishing the stage fifth fastest. Although the factory KTM riding Brit lost 8m 26s to Soultrait he moved up in the overall standings to third and now sits 12m 12s behind leader Quintanilla.

He said: “It was a really tricky stage, there was a lot of fog on the top of one of the mountains and that made riding and navigation tough. The only thing you could do was ease down on your pace a little and take a lot of care. At one point visibility was down to just a few metres. The road book had a lot of long notes that weren’t as clear as they could have been and I think a few people struggled with that. As the day went on the riders grouped up and that is always a bit unpredictable because you don’t know what the other guys are going to do. This is the Dakar though, we know it’s difficult and we know we’ll have stages like this. It’s still early days so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.” 

Stage three was also the stage where Dakar’s young blood found their mojo with Honda’s Kevin Benavides and Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren showing the pace that was expected of them to finish third and fourth respectively. Results that now move them up to second and fourth in the overall standings.

Britain’s Max Hunt had another brilliant day with the Malle Moto rider claiming a highly impressive 31stplace a result that moves him up to 33rdoverall and top Malle Moto rider.

Fellow Brit Richard Main found the open desert going to his liking and propelled himself up the leader board dramatically. Despite his low starting number he finished the stage in 63rdposition and is now 78thoverall.


Stage 3 result

1          Xavier De Soultrait      Yamaha                       4h 07m 42s

2          Pablo Quintanilla        Husqvarna                   + 15s

3          Kevin Banavides          Honda                         +2m 37s

4          Adrien Van Beveran    Yamaha                       +6m 42s

5          Sam Sunderland          KTM                             +8m 26s

6          Paulo Goncalves         Honda                         +9m 31s


Overall standings

1          Pablo Quintanilla        Husqvarna                   8h 34m 28s

2          Kevin Banavides          Honda                         + 11m 23s

3          Sam Sunderland          KTM                             +12m 12s

4          Adrien Van Beveran    Yamaha                       + 13m 29s

5          Toby Price                   KTM                             + 15m 17s

6          Xavier De Soultrait      Yamaha                       + 16m 52s

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider