The Mini-Toyota showdown at the top of the 2019 Dakar Rally leaderboard swung into the latter’s favor once again on Wednesday, as Nasser Al-Attiyah reclaimed the overall top spot for cars with a runner-up finish in Stage 3. Al-Attiyah’s 3:57:57 ride from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa may have been 3:26 short of Stephane Peterhansel’s stage-winning time, but it was good enough to give the Qatari driver a 6:48 advantage over Yazeed Al-Rahji in the overall standings.
Peterhansel’s stage win was the highlight of an up and down day for the X-Raid Mini JCW Team. Defending event winner Carlos Sainz is no longer in serious contention for the event victory after dealing with a wheel on fire and spending multiple hours stranded just 38 kilometers into the 331-kilometer stage. Trouble was far from exclusive to Sainz, though, as Sebastien Loeb also lost over 40 minutes due to navigation errors and finished the stage outside of the top 10.
The third stage also proved to be a disaster for some of the biggest names in two-wheel action as well. After getting his Honda stuck in a basin, incoming overall leader Joan Barreda was forced to abandon the race. All three Red Bull KTM factory riders had a day to forget as well, with Sam Sunderland the only top five finisher, and American Ricky Brabec fell off of the overall podium with a 13th place finish on Wednesday. The tumult enabled Yamaha’s Xavier de Soultrait to take the first stage win of his Dakar career, and Chilean Pablo Quintanilla to seize the overall lead by 11:23 over Kevin Benavides.
In Side-by-Side action, the battle between Chaleco Lopez and Gerardo Farres rages on for the top spot. Farres won today’s stage at 4:35:58, but Lopez leads him in the overall standings by 3:24. Defending Dakar champion Reinaldo Varela sits 12:25 out of the class lead, and is currently off of the podium. Despite a whopping 20 minutes worth of penalties applied so far, American Casey Currie is back into the overall top 10 after posting the fourth best stage time of the day. Of Robby Gordon’s three UTV Open entries competing in the Autos class, only Blade Hildebrand had completed the course as of 5PM ET/2PM PT.
Neither Nicolas Cavigliasso (Quad) nor Eduard Nikolaev (Truck) would win their third consecutive stages on Wednesday, but both would maintain their overall event leads. Cavigliasso’s advantage over Wednesday winner Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli is nearly at half an hour, while Nikolaev’s time so far is over five minutes faster than Federico Villagra.
The next two days of action in Dakar will see Bikes and Quads split off from Cars, Trucks, and Side-by-Sides. For Stage 4, Bikes and Quads will head from Arequipa to Moquegua, while the rest will depart Arequipa for Tacna; they’ll each return to Arequipa the next day. Saturday will be a day of rest as the rally hits its halfway point.