Lucas Moraes emerged victorious in Dakar Stage 3, a challenging leg of the race that spanned 732km from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya. This stage marked the start of an intense mini-marathon segment. Adding to the rigor, teams were allotted just a two-hour service window upon completion, before moving on to a remote parc fermé. In this barren desert setting, crews had to adapt from the day’s harsh driving conditions to resting in tents, underscoring the stark contrasts this stage presented.
Moraes’ Masterful Stage Victory
Lucas Moraes, teamed with Armand Monleon and representing Toyota Gazoo Racing, emerged triumphant in stage four, blending strategy with skill. Launching from ninth position, the Brazilian driver maintained a close watch on his competitors, ensuring he was never more than two minutes adrift of the frontrunners. A strategic maneuver saw him briefly seize the lead at the 310km mark, only to relinquish it marginally – a mere four-second gap – to the formidable duo of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel in their Prodrive Hunter.
Undeterred, Moraes sustained intense pressure, trailing the Qatari driver by 22 seconds. In a thrilling conclusion over the final 33km, he unleashed a ferocious surge, overtaking not just Al-Attiyah, but also the Audi team of Mattias Ekström and Emil Bergkvist by nine seconds, and Yazeed Al Rajhi by a full minute. All three competitors finished ahead of Al-Attiyah. This feat marked Moraes’ inaugural victory in a Dakar stage, a testament to his driving prowess and strategic acumen.
The stage witnessed a stellar performance from the Audi team of Ekström and Bergkvist, who clinched second place with their outstanding drive. This result propelled the Swedish duo to third in the overall standings, highlighting their consistency and skill.
Al Rajhi Secures Overall Lead
Al Rajhi, beginning the day in fifth, swiftly ascended the leaderboard, seizing the lead after the first 100km. He then adopted a steady pace for the remainder of the stage, maintaining a 49-second gap from the leader with 33km remaining. His third-place finish in the stage was more than just a podium spot; it catapulted him into the overall lead, holding a slender 29-second advantage over Carlos Sainz.
Al-Attiyah, in his resilient Hunter, overcame mechanical setbacks – notably two broken rear dampers – to secure fourth place, finishing a commendable 28 seconds ahead of the competitive Romain Dumas and Max Delfino in their Rebellion Toyota Hilux.
Carlos Sainz, alongside Lucas Cruz in their Audi RS Q e-tron, faced a challenging stage. An early drop to 16th place didn’t deter their spirits. They fought back valiantly, ultimately crossing the finish line in sixth, a testament to their determination and driving expertise.
Serradori’s Seventh in Dakar
Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier showcased their driving prowess by steering their Century Racing CR6-T to an impressive seventh-place finish. Their performance highlighted the vehicle’s capabilities and the team’s strategic execution.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger, victors of stage three, encountered the challenges of leading the pack. Opening the road, they finished eighth in their Audi, a position influenced by the inherent difficulties of navigating uncharted terrain ahead of competitors.
Benediktas Vanagas and Kuldar Sikk delivered their best performance of the campaign in their Toyota Gazoo Racing Baltics Hilux, securing ninth place. Their effort placed them comfortably ahead of the X-Raid Arijus Mini JCW team of Vaidotas Zala and Paola Fiuza.
Loeb’s Dramatic Stage Fall
Sebastian Loeb, starting the day in a promising second position in his BRX Prodrive Hunter, experienced a significant setback, falling to 22nd by the stage’s end. This dramatic shift underscored the unpredictable nature of rally racing, where fortunes can change rapidly.
Gregoire De Meuvis, who had triumphed in stage one, led for approximately 150km of the race. However, a pause of 15 minutes at the 268km mark due to mechanical issues resulted in a loss of ten positions, leaving him trailing the leader by half an hour. This incident underscored the challenges teams face in maintaining their vehicles’ performance throughout the demanding stages of the rally.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s emerging talent, Sa’ood Variawa, alongside co-driver Francois Cazalet, made a significant leap in the rankings, surging 20 places to finish 20th overall. This impressive advancement underlines their potential and adaptability in the demanding rally environment.
Botterill’s Tough Day, Drops to 30th
Their TGRSA teammate, rookie Guy Botterill with navigator Brett Cummings, faced a challenging day. Starting from a commendable 13th position, they unfortunately dropped to 30th following a series of misfortunes: the duo endured three punctures and had to stop thrice to inflate the tire, significantly impacting their race time.
Giniel de Villiers and Seth Quintero also encountered tire troubles, both suffering punctures within the first 20km and again before reaching the 70km mark. Quintero, facing a third puncture, received a timely assist from Lucas Moraes, who generously offered one of his spare tires. However, with no spare tires remaining, both de Villiers and Quintero opted for a cautious approach, switching to a safe mode to ensure completion of the stage.
Terence Marsh, CEO of Red-Lined Motorsport, provided a fascinating glimpse into the technical aspects of the race. He revealed that data analysis showed drivers of the three RevoT1+ vehicles averaged seven gear changes per kilometer over the 463km of stage three. This statistic translates to an astounding 3,241 gear changes throughout the stage, highlighting the intense technical demands and driver skill required in this grueling rally format.
Quintanilla Secures Seventh Dakar Win
Pablo Quintanilla clinched a notable victory in the bike segment of the Dakar Rally, marking his seventh stage win in the prestigious event. This triumph places him alongside fellow Chilean Nacho Cornejo in their nation’s honor roll for the bike category. Quintanilla led the pack, finishing ahead of Joan Barreda and Kevin Benavides in the day’s special. Despite this, Ross Branch maintains his position atop the general rankings, holding a 4-minute and 11-second lead over Cornejo.
In a significant development, Sebastian Bühler suffered a crash after covering 360 kilometers of the special stage. This incident follows the withdrawal of Joachim Rodrigues two days prior, leaving the Indian team with only Branch and Barreda in contention.
Sam Sunderland faced a daunting challenge, halting for over three and a half hours at the 11-kilometer mark due to a mechanical issue, ultimately leading to his withdrawal from the stage.
Van Kasteren’s Dramatic Dakar
In the truck category, Janus van Kasteren appeared poised for victory, initially holding a lead of over three minutes against Aleš Loprais after 201 kilometers. However, the dynamics shifted dramatically at the subsequent checkpoint (249 kilometers), with van Kasteren’s lead dwindling to just 48 seconds. The situation worsened for the Dutch competitor; by the 310-kilometer mark, he not only lost the lead but also fell behind by more than 13 minutes, underscoring the unpredictable and challenging nature of the Dakar Rally.
|YAZEED AL RAJHI
|13H 07′ 29”
|TEAM AUDI SPORT
|13H 07′ 58”
|+ 00H 00′ 29”
|TEAM AUDI SPORT
|13H 15′ 55”
|+ 00H 08′ 26”
|TOYOTA GAZOO RACING
|13H 16′ 46”
|+ 00H 09′ 17”
|13H 18′ 18”
|+ 00H 10′ 49”
|CENTURY RACING FACTORY TEAM
|13H 26′ 01”
|+ 00H 18′ 32”
|13H 27′ 27”
|+ 00H 19′ 58”
|TEAM AUDI SPORT
|13H 29′ 34”
|+ 00H 22′ 05”
|BAHRAIN RAID XTREME
|13H 32′ 27”
|+ 00H 24′ 58”
|X-RAID ARIJUS TEAM
|13H 33′ 41”
|+ 00H 26′ 12”
Lucas Moraes wins Dakar Stage 3 Lucas Moraes wins Dakar Stage 3 Lucas Moraes wins Dakar Stage 3 Lucas Moraes wins Dakar Stage 3
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