AL QAISUMAH: The third stage of the Dakar Rally finished yesterday, and Nasser Al Attiyah finished ahead of Sebastien Loeb by 38 minutes.
In the 255-kilometre circle stage near Al Qaisumah Loeb, the nine-time world rally champion, started nine minutes behind Al Attiyah overall, but immediately found himself in difficulty.
After only ten minutes of use, the longitudinal gearbox on his Prodrive failed, reducing him to a two-wheel drive. He was 15 minutes off the pace by the halfway point of the stage in northern Saudi Arabia.
In his Toyota, Al Attiyah finished eighth on a stage won by three-time winner Carlos Sainz in 2 1/2 hours. This was Sainz’s 40th stage win in his career, the fourth-best in the history of the Dakar.
“I think Seb had a problem with the car and we just tried to take it easy without any risks. I’m quite happy to finish the stage without any problems. This will be good for tomorrow,” Al Attiyah said.
“Tomorrow is a very long stage. I think we need to be really careful in the long stages. I wasn’t surprised to be caught by Carlos because I was going very slowly. It was not a surprise because my main target is Sebastien Loeb, not Carlos Sainz. I don’t need to fight with Carlos because he is too far from us. Seb was the main target, but now Seb has a problem. We’re just trying to control the rally. It’s not easy, you know, because now we are on day three and it has happened a lot with many, many drivers, but this is the Dakar and we need to respect the Dakar,” Al Attiyah said.
Within two minutes, South Africa’s Henk Lategan was second and France’s Stephane Peterhansel third. Sam Sunderland of the United Kingdom maintained his overall lead in the motorcycling race for the second day in a row, but his margin over Adrien van Beveren of France was reduced to four seconds.
On the third stage, Sunderland was 17th, while Van Beveren was ninth. Joaquim Rodrigues of Portugal and his Hero squad headed to the stage for their maiden Dakar Rally victory.