IT’S the end of day three, and already the 2018 Dakar has churned more than 1,000km of desert dunes and tricky terrain.
After winning Saturday’s debut, yesterday reigning champion Sam Sunderland saw a rocky race, finishing in seventh, and dropping to fourth in the overall rankings.
However, the Brit was on top form once again today, taking the win on the special 296km Pisco/San Juan de Marcona stage, with a time of three hours, 20 minutes and 43 seconds – a three minute, three second lead on Kevin Benavides of the Monster Energy Honda Team.
Sunderland’s success today returned him to the top of the leaderboard, with a total time of six hours, 44 minutes and 23 seconds. Benavides follows four minutes, 38 seconds behind.
Toby Price, Sunderland’s Red Bull KTM Factory teammate took third in today’s stage, three minutes and 28 seconds behind Sunderland, while Benavides teammate Ricky Brabec came fourth, three minutes and 55 seconds behind.
Price and Brabec occupy fourth and fifth positions overall, with respective times of + 00H 07' 28'' and + 00H 08' 00''.
Pablo Quintanilla of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, who came behind Brabec in today’s stage, remains ahead of both Brabec and Price in the overall standings, at exactly five minutes behind Sunderland.
Monster Energy Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort, who took the second stage win and finished yesterday atop the overall rankings has significantly reduced his chances of an overall win today, after getting lost towards the end of the stage and reaching the finishing line almost 28 minutes behind Sam Sunderland.
Yamaha has also suffered in today’s long stage, with Franco Caimi finishing the stage 11 minutes behind the winner, Xavier de Soultrait almost 12 minutes behind and Adrien Van Beveren losing more than 13 minutes to Sunderland.