Sanders jumps into Dakar lead with Stage 3 win

Daniel Sanders has won Dakar Stage 3

Daniel Sanders has won Dakar Stage 3

Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders has moved into the overall lead of Dakar 2023 with a sizeable win on Stage 3 of the event.

Sanders had provisionally won the first stage proper before being hit with a speeding penalty and then strategically gave up the victory on Stage 2.

That decision gave him a more favourable road position for the 447km special between Al Ula and Ha’il, from which the Australian converted.

He was among the quickest throughout a special which featured a mixture of sand and gravel tracks, and enjoyed a winning margin of 5:23s over Red Bull KTM’s Kevin Benavides and 56 seconds more to Skyler Howes (Husqvarna Factory) at the finish line.

The 28-year-old’s advantage atop the overall classification is 4:04s, with previous leader Mason Klein (BAS World KTM) now in second place and Benavides another 49 seconds back in third*.

UPDATE: A change to the stage results means Sanders drops to second in the overall classification

UPDATE 2: Sanders restored to overall lead due to amendment of results

Klein was first onto the road by virtue of his win on the day prior and the new opener bonus meant he was still the official leader at Kilometre 240 of a stage which featured some light rain and puddles.

However, that compensation for the burdening of blazing the trail ends at 240km, yet the American continued to cede time on the road relative to his key rivals.

Sanders pulled clear thereafter and Benavides assumed second place at Kilometre 335, by which point Ricky Brabec had crashed his Monster Energy Honda.

The 2020 Dakar champion’s hopes of a second title this time around are now over, with Brabec taken to hospital for checks having injured his neck.

Klein would finish fourth on the stage, one position and officially 40 seconds behind compatriot Howes, who also benefited from opener bonuses.

Joan Barreda Bort (Monster Energy JB Honda) rounded out the top five for the day, with Toby Price (Red Bull KTM) sixth, 12:14s slower than Sanders.

Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda) was seventh on the stage, ahead of Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda), Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero Motosports), and Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Monster Energy Honda).

In the overall classification, it is Sanders, Klein, Benavides, and then Howes at 8:35s from the lead, followed by Barreda Bort in fifth as the Spaniard perseveres with a fractured big toe after hitting a rock on Stage 2.

Price is sixth, exactly 11 minutes off the pace, ahead of Quintanilla, Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda), Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM), and Ross Branch (Hero Motosports).

Stage 4 is a sand-heavy loop around Ha’il where navigation will be key, with action to recommence tomorrow afternoon (AEDT).

Overall classification: Bikes Top 10, Updated*

Pos Rider Nat Team Time/Gap
1 Daniel SANDERS AUS Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing 14:05:38
2 Mason KLEIN USA BAS World KTM Racing Team +0:04:04
3 Kevin BENAVIDES ARG Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0:06:53
4 Skyler HOWES USA Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:08:35
5 Joan BARREDA BORT ESP Monster Energy JB Team +0:10:37
6 Toby PRICE AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0:11:00
7 Pablo QUINTANILLA CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +0:16:56
8 ADRIEN VAN BEVEREN FRA Monster Energy Honda Team +0:21:30
9 Matthias WALKNER AUT Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0:22:02
10 ROSS BRANCH BOT Hero Motosports Team Rally +0:23:42

* Kevin Benavides 2min penalty (gap to leader now 6:53s)

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