A first-class day for Hero and Audi
Today, on the third day of the race, the competitors had to tackle a special that was shortened due to the heavy rain that soaked a part of the region of Al Artawiyah. The stage began at the point which should originally have hosted CP1, reducing the timed section by approximately one hundred kilometres. On a loop around Al Qaysumah, the riders and drivers started with a 214-km link section, before 255 km of special, followed by a 166-km return route to the starting bivouac for the second looped stage on the rally. On the menu, there was sand which, thanks to the rain, was heavier and provided better carry. However, there were also chains of dunes through which the competitors had to wind as well as climb, over a distance of 30 km, classed as level 2 difficulty. From the top of these first large dunes, the elite competitors could already start to scrutinize the route of the long stage in store for tomorrow: Nasser Al-Attiyah and Daniel Sanders, through managing their race on the day’s special, look well prepared to affront it.
The story of David against Goliath is mythical and can sometimes bet repeated on the Dakar. Such thumbing of the nose was carried out today in the bike category by Portugal’s Joaquim Rodrigues, who achieved a certain form of consecration by winning a special on his 6th Dakar (see “Performance of the day”). His feat did not perturb the leaders of the overall classification, though the gaps between them narrowed before the major battle expected tomorrow on the way to Riyadh. For his 31st birthday, Adrien Van Beveren was within 4 seconds of deposing his rival Sam Sunderland from the top of the race hierarchy, on which Matthias Walkner (3rd) and Skyler Howes (4th) also closed in. In total, five brands were represented in the top 6, with the Sherco ridden by Lorenzo Santolino in 6th place. A first victory was also not very far off for Henk Lategan, who was the fastest driver at the intermediate check points. However, he came up against a very imposing stage win collector at the end of the special in the form of Carlos Sainz, who crossed the finishing line with the best time for the 40th occasion in his career on the Dakar (see “Stat of the day”). Nonetheless, the Spaniard denied himself the pleasure of celebrating, such was his frustration at falling out of the reckoning two days ago in the fight for the title, which chiefly concerns Nasser Al-Attiyah… and increasingly less Sebastien Loeb. The
Frenchman and his BRX Hunter remain in 2nd position, but the breakage of his prop shaft after 10 km of racing forced him to drive conservatively (well, as much as that is possible for a driver like Loeb!) and he finished the day more than 37 minutes behind the Qatari race leader. In the T3 class, Seth Quintero tried to drown his disappointment at yesterday’s display (when he lost several hours due to a mechanical problem) by grabbing his third special after a short night’s sleep, though “Chaleco” López now leads the overall classification, with Sebastian Eriksson 9 minutes behind in his rear-view mirror. The Poles continued their stage win domination in the SSV category, with another special success picked up by Marek Goczał, but American Austin Jones is still in command in the overall classification. In the truck race, in his Kamaz number 500, Dmitry Sotnikov consolidated his position as leader by obtaining his 2nd stage win of the year, climbing onto the top step of the day’s podium onto which also clambered Janus Van Kasteren from Team De Rooy behind the wheel of his Iveco.
PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY
Joaquim Rodrigues was not aware of the fact this morning at the start, but he set off with the costume of a superhero! Featuring on the virtual podium at each check point, he won the special to obtain his first victory on the Dakar. He also offered the same distinction to Hero Motorsport, the Indian brand for whom he made his debut in 2017. “J-Rod” has endured the worst of experiences, with the death of his team-mate Paulo Gonçalves on 12th January 2020, but today enjoyed one of the best, thanks in part to his former countryman and team-mate: “It’s my first stage victory on the Dakar and its historical for the team, I’m really, really happy. I was riding well and so fast that I even said to myself, ‘Paulo is riding with me here’. I think he and I won here today”. The Portuguese rider’s performance is a reward for the unrelenting work of Wolfgang Fischer’s team, which has cast off the curse that seems to have affected the red and whites: “J-Rod was there with Santosh when we began the project, which has obviously experienced highs and lows. Returning last year with the construction of a new bike following Paulo’s death was not easy. We took part in as many races as possible and organised as much testing and training as we could in order to be ready for the Dakar, but we ran into bad luck in the weeks leading up to the race with injuries to Sebastian Buhler and Franco Caimí. In the end, we are here with Aaron Mare and only have two riders, but Joaquim has won for him and for Hero. It is a very emotional moment for us”.
A CRUSHING BLOW
Last year, for his first participation on the Dakar, Laisvydas Kancius finished in seventh place, which is a perfectly respectable performance for a rookie. For this 44th edition of the Dakar, the Lithuanian was simply hoping to go one place better in the overall classification. “Finishing sixth would be good, but of course everybody dreams of a podium finish,” he admitted. He looked to have the capabilities of achieving this goal with ninth place on the opening special. The following day witnessed consecration with no less than victory on stage 1B, more than ten minutes ahead of Pablo Copetti and Giovanni Enrico, who were on the Dakar 2021 podium behind Manuel Andújar. This display enabled him to tackle Monday’s special with the status of category leader. Although he had lost a few minutes by the time he reached the finishing line, he completed the third stage still on top of the overall classification. “Easy does it, we’re sticking to the plan,” he cheerfully commented yesterday evening on Facebook. But, as a famous poet once said, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry: his adventure unfortunately ground to a standstill after the first check point due to a mechanical problem. As if that was not enough, his quad also got stuck in the sand, leaving him to admit that even if he managed to dig it out, he would not be able to resume racing. This forced withdrawal is a major blow for the Lithuanian. Nevertheless, he can play his trump card and return to action tomorrow. With 14 quads at the start this morning, Kancius, even with the significant penalty he will receive, could still be in with a shout of making an impact on certain stages.
STAT OF THE DAY: 1985
Back to the future! Today, Carlos Sainz took us on a journey back in time through the history of the Dakar…
In fact, you need to go back to 1985 to find the most recent victory by an Audi on the Dakar. At the time, it was a Quattro belonging to the French privateer team Malardeau, driven by Bernard Darniche. In obtaining the 40th success of his career on the Dakar, “El Matador” put the Audi RS Q e-tron on the highest step of the podium for the very first time on the world’s most prestigious rally-raid. The icing on the cake was that it was also the first victory achieved by a car enrolled in the T1-Ulimate class, a brand-new category introduced this year, reserved for alternatively powered vehicles. The introduction of this class is part of the first act in the #DakarFuture plan and it is a safe bet that this first triumph by a hybrid vehicle will lead to many more. In any event, all the signals are on green…
W2RC : Al-Attiyah gains a bit of breathing space
Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sébastien Loeb were neck-and-neck yesterday, but today that is no longer the case. The Frenchman who broke his transmission, drew a blank on completion of stage 3 and stays on a total of nine points. However, by finishing eighth on the stage but third amongst the world championship protagonists, his Qatari rival has added three points to his total and is the same number of units ahead of Loeb. “Nani” Roma enjoyed a profitable day in W2RC terms because he is now only one point behind his BRX clan teammate. In the T3 class, Seth Quintero, who was unlucky on Monday, came up trumps today and climbs to within two points of “Chaleco” López. As regards their T4 class colleagues, Michał Goczał got the upper hand over Austin Jones and the two Can-Am drivers are respectively on 11 and 10 points before the fourth special. In the truck race, Martin Macík opened up the gap a little further, with 15 points as opposed to the 12 possessed by his team-mate Martin Šoltys.
THE MAKINGS OF A CLASSIC
For the provisional classification in the H3 class, which is for the Dakar Classic’s best performing historical vehicles with a high average constant speed, there is a whiff of a family affair! In the first three places, there are two crews of spouses and one father and son duo. Mr. and Mrs. Panagiotis lead, followed by their FJ team-mates, namely the Galpins. Two Protrucks formerly driven by Saby and Pescarolo occupy the first two places and are followed, as if it was necessary to drape the French control of this class in a blue, white and red flag, by Philippe and Kevin Grandjean from the Ralliart Off Road Classic team, who are driving their Mitsubishi Pajero dating from 1988. And it is not just any old car, because it is a veritably historical vehicle: a prototype produced at the time by the Maingret factory, painted in Nikon’s colours, a replica of the car that was the star of the Paris-Cape Town rally in 1992. Thirty years ago, Hubert Auriol was behind its wheel, escorted on the South African podium by his two team-mates from Ralliart. It is a fine homage to the first biker to win the Dakar on four wheels, who passed away almost one year ago. As if that was not enough, the spectre of one of the discipline’s giants looms in the rear-view mirror of our French friends: Vatanen, in the form of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Grand Raid from 1987, the year of the Sochaux based constructor’s debut on the Dakar. It is driven by a lady driver, Fanny Jacquot, who has just entered the top 10 of the H3 class behind the wheel of one of the stars in the Dakar Classic field, prepared and entrusted to her at the last minute by her father. It is enough to make those who are lucky enough to attend the start of the fourth stage to Riyadh pure with pleasure.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Ignacio Casale: “I can fight with the top drivers”
The Chilean driver and two times Dakar winner in the quad category is starting to flourish in his reconversion with increasingly impressive performances in the truck category: today, he achieved the 6th best time on the special.
“Today was a very funny stage for me. It was very speedy and fast. I think we finished in sixth position and that’s good for me because I can fight with the top drivers”.
More, from a press release issued by GASGAS Factory Racing:
SUNDERLAND MAINTAINS PROVISIONAL DAKAR RALLY LEAD
GASGAS FACTORY RACING’S BRITISH ACE DELIVERS ANOTHER STRONG RIDE WHILE SANDERS SECURES THE FIFTH FASTEST TIME ON A SHORTENED STAGE THREE
Ticking off another solid day of racing at the 2022 Dakar Rally, GASGAS Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland and Daniel Sanders have both safely completed the relatively simple, but super-fast, third stage. For Sunderland, the Brit expertly assisted with opening the special after setting off in second place before a minor issue finding a waypoint caused him to lose a little bit of time. With all riders setting a similar pace, he ultimately placed 17th, just seven-and-a-half minutes behind the stage winner to retain the overall rally lead. Sanders meanwhile secured the fifth fastest time and now lies fifth in the overall provisional classification.
Strong rides for Sam and Daniel on super-fast special
GASGAS RC 450F Rally race bikes continue to deliver the goods
Tomorrow brings the longest stage of the Dakar Rally
Sam Sunderland: “Today was very sandy, and very fast! I had a little bit of difficulty finding a waypoint, which allowed a few riders to catch up with me, so I knew I’d lost a bit of time there. But overall, it wasn’t too bad. We’re in for a really long stage tomorrow so starting further back is a good thing and I’m excited for a long day on the bike.”
As the 23rd rider to enter stage three after his little detour yesterday, Daniel Sanders was on the gas from the moment he entered the special until he roared across the finish line in Al Qaisumah. Despite being slightly frustrated that the stage was cut short due to heavy rain, the Aussie remains upbeat and near the front of the provisional standings. Sanders is now just under nine minutes behind the race leader, Sam Sunderland.
Daniel Sanders: “It was a good day today. It’s a shame that the stage was cut short as I had a solid pace going and feel like I’d have made up some more time on the guys in front. The navigation was a little bit easier that previous days, so I was able to put my head down and charge all day pretty much. I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2022, stage 3
1. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 2:34:41
2. Toby Price (KTM) 2:35:44
3. Mason Klein (KTM) 2:35:55
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 2:37:36
17. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 2:42:11
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 3)
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 11:13:40
2. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 11:13:44
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 11:15:10
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 11:22:34
More, from a press release issued by Husqvarna Factory Racing:
SKYLER HOWES CLAIMS TOP-FOUR RESULT ON DAKAR RALLY STAGE THREE
CONSISTENCY PAYS OFF FOR HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING’S LEAD RIDER AS HOWES CLIMBS TO FOURTH IN THE OVERALL RACE CLASSIFICATION
Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Skyler Howes continues to put in strong and consistent results at the 2022 Dakar Rally, claiming his second fourth-place stage finish in a row to move himself up to fourth in the provisional overall standings. Skyler now trails the event leader by under four minutes. Teammate Luciano Benavides completed the shortened 255-kilometre special in 15th place.
Heavy rain in the area forced the organisers to cut short stage three, and with wet sand covering the tracks and dunes, the special delivered a fast-paced challenge to all competitors. Howes, who found the conditions very much to his liking, pushed hard from his fourth-place start position, making very few errors and catching the three riders ahead of him before the end of the stage. Opening the special from there on, the American was able to maintain his position on the time sheets, despite his rivals chasing him down. Another fourth-place stage result means that Howes now lies fourth in the overall standings and will also enjoy a strong start position for Wednesday’s long 465-kilometre timed special from Al Qaysumah to Riyadh.
Continuing to move himself up the overall order, Luciano Benavides put in a solid ride on stage three to claim 15th place, just over six minutes down on the winner. Completing the special without error or incident, Benavides moves up to 25th in the rankings. The young Argentinian is determined to make up for the time lost on stage one, but with nine days still left to race, he knows that a consistent pace without any mistakes is key to fulfilling that goal.
Skyler Howes: “Today was really fun – fast like yesterday with plenty of tracks and some technical dunes. I started off fourth and stayed there till around kilometre 250 where there was a tricky-to-find waypoint and I managed to catch up with the three in front. From there to the finish I opened the whole way, which was really fun and good experience. I did ok on my navigation today, not perfect but it all went smoothly, and I was able to stay at a good pace even from the front. Fourth on the stage is really encouraging, so I’m stoked and already looking forward to tomorrow.”
Luciano Benavides: “Stage three has definitely been the best day for me so far in the race in terms of my rhythm and navigation. I didn’t make any big mistakes and was able to set my own pace throughout the special. Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally, and it looks like it’s going to include some really tricky navigation, so I think I have a good start position to hopefully make up some time. My position in the overall is still not too great because of the time lost on day one, but there are still many days to go, and I’ll keep on giving my best.”
2022 Dakar Rally – Stage 3 Provisional Classification
1. Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) 2:34:41
2. Toby Price (KTM) 2:35:44
3. Mason Klein (KTM) 2:35:55
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 2:36:07
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 2:37:36
15. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 2:41:02
2022 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 3)
1. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 11:13:40
2. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 11:13:44
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 11:15:10
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 11:17:35
5. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 11:22:34
25. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 12:15:54
More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Honda Team:
Ricky Brabec back to fine form in Al Qaisumah
Monster Energy Honda Team riders turned out solid performances in today’s looping Al Qaisumah special, with sights firmly set on tomorrow’s longest 2022 Dakar Rally special. Brabec, Cornejo, Barreda and Quintanilla will all be looking to make up time and positions by the time they reach Riyadh.
Today’s third stage played out over an unscheduled loop in Al-Qaisumah on an altered route, shortened to a 255-kilometre special and a 380-kilometre link section. There were 214 kilometres of liaison to be tackled on this chilly morning, with temperatures below 10°C, before reaching the start of the day’s timed special. The stage was raced over fast sandy tracks, some type two dune ridges and some twelve kilometres of off-piste tracks.
Ricky Brabec was Monster Energy Honda Team’s best-placed rider today on this third stage, finishing sixth on the day in RallyGP after having set off from fifteenth position. Fine work for the American who is attempting to claw his way back up the rankings stage by stage.
José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo made a good recovery in the shortened special. The young Chilean continues to make notable progress, posting eleventh, a little over five minutes shy of the day’s winner. Barreda’s role as the day’s track-opener could have gone far worse for the Spanish rider who had been expected to drop considerable time compared to the frontrunners. By the end of the day Joan had only conceded ten-and-a-half minutes to the eventual stage winner. Bang Bang currently holds twelfth place, less than 24 minutes behind the overall rally leader. Pablo Quintanilla planned the day with tomorrow’s stage in mind, however, he dropped a fair amount of time to finish twenty-second, although holding on to an intermediate position in the general rankings close to his main rivals.
The fourth stage will see the entire Dakar bivouac transfer to the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. It will feature the longest special stage of the race, with 465 kilometres out of a total distance of 707 kilometres. From Al Qaisumah, riders and drivers will encounter a myriad of terrain types, each one more demanding than the previous: some 200 kilometres of fast track, dunes, rocks and stones and oueds – dry rivers crossings – which could cause some shake-ups in the general standings.
Ricky Brabec 2
STAGE: 6TH OVERALL: 19TH
The day was fine. The rain a couple of days ago meant that the sand and dirt is still quite wet. When you start up in the rear of the pack, there’s not much navigation and you can see the lines go forever across the valleys and the dunes, so it makes it pretty easy from the back. Today was a fast day, one of the fastest. It’s only day three but we’re a little bit behind. We’ll wait to see how it goes tomorrow and we’ll keep pushing to see what happens at the end.
Pablo Quintanilla 7
STAGE: 22ND OVERALL: 7TH
A sandy stage, with a lot of dunes and some navigation. I pushed at the beginning with some good pace in case anyone made a mistake and I would be right there. The important thing will be tomorrow’s stage, and at the end of the day I realised that the bunch in front of me navigated well and I slowed down a bit, dropping a few minutes. Tomorrow will be the longest special stage of the rally and possibly one of the most difficult. We have a good position to attack tomorrow. We’ll see if we can make up a few minutes in the general standings.
José Ignacio Cornejo 11
STAGE: 11TH OVERALL: 17TH
I’m happy with today’s stage. It was a long and entertaining one. The times were very tight, so you couldn’t make much of a difference, but it was possible to get a good position for tomorrow’s stage. I think it went well and I didn’t lose any time to the stage frontrunners, so we’ll try to make it up day by day focusing hard. We’ll see what’s in store for tomorrow, hopefully it will be more linear and more fluid and with a bit less navigation than yesterday.
Joan Barreda 88
STAGE: 20TH OVERALL: 12TH
It was a good stage, I think I didn’t do too badly. I opened the entire special and I felt strong, with good navigation until about kilometre 200, where there was a waypoint in the dunes that took me a few minutes to validate. I think I lost about 10 minutes until the group arrived. In any case, I’m happy with the job done today.
More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing:
TOBY PRICE FINISHES AS RUNNER-UP ON FAST DAKAR RALLY STAGE THREE
Dakar Rally 2022 – Stage Three
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has secured his best stage finish of the 2022 Dakar Rally so far, bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in an impressive second place. On a shortened, but very fast special, Kevin Benavides finished eighth, with Matthias Walkner just two places behind in 10th. Returning to the race following his technical issue on stage two, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci completed the day in 22nd.
With heavy rain falling in and around the Al Artawiyah region, organizers were forced to shorten the timed special on stage three to 255 kilometers. Made up of extremely fast sand tracks and areas of dunes, the stage didn’t present too much of a challenge in terms of navigation, and as such, times at the top were close. The top 10 finishers were separated by less than five minutes.
After his fifth-place result on stage two, Toby Price knew he would have to push right from the start to make up time on his rivals ahead. However, with times so tight, it was tough for the Australian to claw back much more than a few minutes. Maintaining good speed over the entire special, Price was able to ultimately fight his way up to second, just over one-minute down on the eventual stage winner by the end of the day. The result moves Toby up to 14th overall, as he continues to regain the time lost on stage one.
Toby Price: “Today has been a good day – super fast, so you can’t really make up time on anyone. We had some lines in the dunes that you could see, so I just tried to make a good clean stage and not make any big mistakes. I did have one little get-off, but other than that, nothing major. The results are close, but we’re going in the right direction, and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Impressing once again with both his speed and consistency, Kevin Benavides rode a solid stage three to claim eighth place. As the third rider into the special, it meant that the Argentinian was soon up near the front of the pack, opening the stage along with another three riders. Thanks to his strong run of form, despite losing time on the difficult to navigate opening stage, Kevin now lies eighth in the provisional overall standings.
Kevin Benavides: “I set off third today and so pushed right from the start. After the refueling I caught up to the guys in front and we rode together as a group of four in the end, which was good as the pace was quite high. Day by day I’m getting back some of the time I lost with a mistake on stage one, so things are going well.”
As the 14th rider to take to today’s stage, Matthias Walkner had hoped to use it to his advantage and chase down the riders ahead. With the special shortened and times extremely close, despite his overall speed on the stage, Walkner was unable to retake as much time as he would have liked. However, making the minimum of mistakes, the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion was able to steer his KTM 450 RALLY to the finish in 10th place, successfully defending his third-place position in the overall event standings.
Matthias Walkner: “It was a really, really fast stage today. The guys in front did a good job of navigating, so even though we had some lines in the wet sand, it was hard to make up that much time. I’m lying third in the overall, but it’s still very early, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Suffering a technical issue yesterday, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was forced to withdraw from the stage. Returning to the team at the bivouac, the electrical problem was found and rectified, and the Italian rider was cleared to rejoin the race, although he will no longer feature in the event classification. Setting off 51st into today’s stage three, Petrucci immediately began fighting for a top-20 position, despite the traffic he had to encounter. A small mistake towards the end of the stage cost him a couple of minutes, but Danilo was able to hold on for an impressive 22nd place.
Danilo Petrucci: “I’m really happy to be able to continue riding today after the issue I had yesterday. Yes, I’ve lost one stage, but it feels good to be racing again. I really enjoyed the stage today, the goal was just to get to the end, but it was very fast and really good fun. There were a lot of lines in the sand, but I still tried to read the roadbook and learn more in the way of my own navigation. I did make a couple of small mistakes, but it feels so good to be back on the bike. I have nine more stages to continue learning and I’m looking forward to it.”
Provisional Results Stage Three (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally
1. Joaquim Rodrigues (POR), Hero, 2:34:41
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:35:44 +1:03
3. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 2:35:55 +1:14
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 2:36:07 +1:26
5. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 2:37:36 +2:55
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 2:39:09 +4:28
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 2:39:33 +4:52
22. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 2:44:02 +9:21
Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 3 of 12 stages
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 11:13:40
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 11:13:44 +0:04
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 11:15:10 +1:30
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 11:17:35 +3:55
5. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 11:22:34 +8:54
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 11:31:24 +17:45
14. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 11:40:01 +26:21