Tough third day for Price on the Dakar
Defending Dakar champion Toby Price has endured a tough third stage where a combination of navigational issues and slow officials led to a frustrating day for the Australian where he couldn’t match his pace of yesterday’s stage.
After leading the event he is now sitting in fifth place, 16 minutes off the lead of Joan Barreda who stormed through the stage.
With the navigational issues Price believed he far exceeded the distance of the 346km stage from San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina.
“The first part of the road-book was definitely tricky and I think we all got a little bit out of whack there and a little bit lost,” said Price.
“I ended up doing an extra 10-12km more than I needed to today.
“The next part of the special, due to the liaison time, I had to sit at the end of the first portion for too long waiting for a sticker for the time card. I lost out on a bit of time there and I didn’t quite start my special on the second part straight away.
“I made a little mistake there near the end. We definitely lost a bit of time today; but there’s still a long way to go – we’re only three days in. Give it time and we’ll see how we go.
“We’re definitely going to work our way back. I won last year by almost forty minutes so surely we can try and do something there – it should be good.
“Hopefully my bad day is over and done with now and the rest of the days will be good”.
Barreda delivered a high-level performance on the tricky route. The steep climb in altitude with passages above 5,000 metres, river bed crossings, plus fast and winding tracks on the first part of the stage gave way to a finish on bumpy and trial-like terrain.
The Spaniard was on all-out attack from the very first kilometres of the special, the official Honda rider soon opened up an impressive gap.
By winning his 14th stage victory on the Dakar, Barreda equals the late great Fabrizio Meoni’s number of triumphs and is only one stage win behind another fallen legend in Richard Sainct.
“Today was one of the days that we picked and we prepared for it from yesterday to attack,” said Barreda.
“It was a really tough stage but I kept my focus during all the stage”.
Of the other Australians on the bikes Rod Faggettor was 18th on the stage and is 16th overall, Todd Smith was 40th on the stage and is 27th outright, while Matthew Hart was one place further back on the stage and lies in 47th overall.
In the car section Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel picked up his first victory of this year’s event while early leader Nasser Al-Attiyah hit problems along with fuel pressure issues for his Toyota team-mate Giniel de Villiers.
The Qatari was on course to win the stage and lead the event holding a two minute advantage at the neutralised zone. Then a minor crash where he hit a hole and a rock ripped off the right-rear wheel on the second part of the special stage.
Al-Attiyah eventually got through the stage over two hours behind Peterhansel. The Toyota driver forced to put as much weight over the front wheels to prop-up the broken rear. He used the spare wheel and even rocks to get the car through to the stage finish.
Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb completed a 1-2-3 for Peugeot on the day’s special stage, as well as in the general standings. Loeb heads the field from Sainz and Peterhansel.
“I see that it’s a good result,” said Peterhansel.
“It was just a first stage that was clean with a good speed, no dust to overtake the other drivers, nothing at all. We were always consistent with a good speed.
“The bigger problem I think is for Nasser and probably also for Giniel. For Nasser, there was a big hole and he was stopped just after the big hole so I think he had a big impact on his car and destroyed something. As for Giniel, he was fast and then suddenly he stopped.
“So at the end, it’s a really good day for Peugeot and for the team. We’ve lost, not completely but probably, two rivals in Nasser and Giniel, so no it’s a little bit clearer at the front of the race”.
Outside the Peugeot leaders X-Raid Mini’s Mikko Hirvonen had run within the top three for much of the stage, but eventually dropped back to fourth. The Finn is 9m38s behind Loeb.
In the trucks the stage was won by Eduard Nikolaev in a Kamaz while Martin Kolomy (Tatra) took the overall lead.
Gaston Gonzalez took his first stage victory in the quad race on the Dakar and climbed up to second in the general standings behind the new leader Ignacio Casale.
Tomorrow competitors face 521km including a testing 416 competitive kilometres from San Salvador de Jujuy to Tupiza in Bolivia. The day will include a section in the dunes.
VIDEO: Day 3
VIDEO: Price speaks at the end of the day
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 5, 2017