Al-Attiyah takes Dakar lead as Sainz suffers major blow

Carlos Sainz has lost the lead of Dakar 2023 on Stage 3

Carlos Sainz has lost the lead of Dakar 2023 on Stage 3

Nasser Al-Attiyah has moved into the overall lead of Dakar 2023 despite finishing 13th on Stage 3, thanks to an awful day for Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard dropped from first position to 33:11s off the pace in eighth in the overall classification after suffering mechanical and navigational dramas.

Sainz was initially delayed by an issue with the left-rear suspension cup and, while he navigator Lucas Cruz were able to repair the Audi RS Q e-tron E2, they lost 45 minutes then, and more time subsequently.

While he was 56:21s slower than stage winner Guerlain Chicherit, the loss relative to Al-Attiyah was 35:23s after the Toyota Gazoo driver also struggled in what was a tricky 447km special stage between Al Ula and Ha’il.

In fact, the Cars did not complete all 447km, with the stage cut 70km short due to rain and even hail in a stage which ended in Ha’il, coincidentally.

GCK Motorsport’s Chicherit prevailed in a battle with Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Henk Lategan for the day’s honours, the Prodrive Hunter driver beating the Hilux by 3:26s once the stage was called.

Orlando Terranova (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) was third, from Stephane Peterhansel (Team Audi Sport) and Yazeed Al Rajhi (Overdrive Racing).

The latter is now second overall, 13:20s behind fellow Hilux driver Al-Attiyah, with Peterhansel best of the Audi contingent in third at 20:45s off the pace.

In the third of the Audis, Mattias Ekstrom sits 12th overall, 41:21s behind Al-Attiyah, while Loeb is now a massive 1:35:49s back after yet more drama on Stage 3.

Just a day after copping three punctures in his Prodrive Hunter, the Bahrain Raid Extreme driver had to stop for running repairs, and his hopes of a maiden Dakar crown appear over for another year.

Stage 4 is a sand-heavy loop around Ha’il, with action kicking off this afternoon (AEDT).

CLICK HERE for Bikes report

CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 3

Overall classification: Cars Top 10

Pos Driver Co-driver Team Time/Gap
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah Mathieu Baumel Toyota Gazoo Racing 12:20:33
2 Yazeed Al Rajhi Dirk von Zitzewitz Overdrive Racing +0:13:20
3 Stéphane Peterhansel Edouard Boulanger Team Audi Sport +0:20:45
4 Simon Vitse Frederic Lefebvre MD Rally +0:24:53
5 Brian Baragwanath Leonard Cremer Century Racing Factory Team +0:26:16
6 Mathieu Serradori Loic Minaudier Century Racing Factory Team +0:27:19
7 Giniel De Villiers Dennis Murphy Toyota Gazoo Racing +0:32:08
8 Carlos Sainz Lucas Cruz Team Audi Sport +0:33:11
9 Lucas Moraes Timo Gottschalk Overdrive Racing +0:33:45
10 Martin Prokop Viktor Chytka Orlen Benzina Team +0:35:10
12 Mattias Ekstrom Emil Bergkvist Team Audi Sport +0:41:21
28 Sebastien Loeb Fabian Lurquin Bahrain Raid Xtreme +1:35:49

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