Leg three, around the bivouac in Neom, produced the first stage win of the Dakar 2020 for Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz (both ESP) in the MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. This success was sufficient to let the Spanish pair overtake the overall lead. In total, five MINI race cars finished in the top ten on day three. Jakub “Kuba” Przygonski (POL) and Timo Gottschalk (GER) came home third in the MINI John Cooper Works Rally, ahead of Yasir Seaidan (KSA) and Alexey Kuzmich (RUS), also in a MINI JCW Rally. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and Paulo Fiuza (POR) finished seventh, with Orlando “Orly” Terranova and Bernardo “Ronnie” Graue (both ARG) just behind them in eighth in their MINI JCW Rally.
Sainz and Cruz were focussed on winning the day’s stage from the beginning and, midway through the stage, were embroiled in a close battle for the lead with Nasser Al-Attiyah. The MINI JCW Buggy crew was so fast that it overtook all its rivals out on the route and was the first to arrive at the finish. This is stage win number 32 at the Dakar for Sainz. “We pushed hard today and it paid off,” said a delighted Sainz. “Lucas did a very good job of navigating, especially as we opened the final part of the stage. It was a great route with incredible scenery. Unfortunately, we did not have time to take a closer look.”
After enduring more than his fair share of bad luck on the past two days, Przygonski bounced back to finish in the top three today. The Pole worked his way through the field throughout the entire stage and made up a lot of time, particularly on the final few kilometres. “It went really well for us today,” said Przygonski. “We pushed from the outset, even though the stage was not easy. We only stopped briefly to give Zala a tyre, as he had run out of spares.”
Seaidan and Kuzmich also had a good day, finishing as fine fourth. “I am very happy,” said the Saudi. “Today’s stage was very similar to the routes in the WRC – very winding, rocky and sandy, but quick. Navigation was very difficult, but Alexey did a very good job.”
Peterhansel and Fiuza, in a MINI JCW Buggy, were among the fastest three cars throughout almost the entire stage. However, they ultimately had to settle for seventh place. “We were running well at first,” said Peterhansel. “However, we lost some time when we went the wrong way a few times in the final 100 kilometres. It didn’t help that the GPS failed on my side.” Peterhansel now lies fifth overall.
Today was not an easy day for Terranova. “It was difficult around the middle of the stage, as we had two slow punctures and had to stop,” said the Argentinean. “Despite everything, it was a good day.” Terranova and Graue are now third overall, but still within striking distance of the leaders.
Unfortunately, Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) and Vitaly Yevtyekhov (UKR) were forced to retire from this year’s Dakar. Their car caught fire through the stage.
omorrow, the Dakar caravan moves on to Al-`Ula. After a 123-kilometre liaison stage, a 453-kilometre special stage awaits the drivers. They then have a 96-kilometre trip back to the bivouac.
Dakar Rally - result SS3*
1. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) MINI JCW Buggy - 3h 48m 01s
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota – 3h 51m 32s
3. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Gottschalk (GER) MINI JCW Rally – 3h 52m 20s
4. Y. Seaidan (KSA) / A. Kuzmich (RUS) MINI JCW Rally - 3h 53m 29s
5. F. Alonso (ESP) / M. Coma (ESP) Toyota - 3h 54m 15s
7. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / P. Fiuza (POR) MINI JCW Buggy – 3h 58m 27s
8. O. Terranova (ARG) / B. Graue (ARG) MINI JCW Rally - 4h 00m 53s
14. D. Krotov (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) MINI JCW Rally - 4h 10m 46s
18. A. Dorosinskiy (RUS) / O. Uperenko (LVA) MINI ALL4 Racing - 4h 17m 09s
32. V. Zala (LTU) / S. Jurgelenas (LTU) MINI JCW Rally – 4h 44m 32s
Dakar Rally – overall standings after SS3*
1. C. Sainz (ESP) / L. Cruz (ESP) MINI JCW Buggy - 11h 00m 20s
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / M. Baumel (FRA) Toyota – 11h 05m 15s
3. O. Terranova (ARG) / B. Graue (ARG) MINI JCW Rally - 11h 08m 29s
4. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / K. Zhiltsov (RUS) Toyota – 11h 19m 18s
5. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / P. Fiuza (POR) MINI JCW Buggy – 11h 19m 20s
10. V. Zala (LTU) / S. Jurgelenas (LTU) MINI JCW Rally – 12h 00m 19s
11. Y. Seaidan (KSA) / A. Kuzmich (RUS) MINI JCW Rally - 12h 02m 08s
19. D. Krotov (RUS) / D. Tsyro (UKR) MINI JCW Rally - 12h 46m 21s
20. A. Dorosinskiy (RUS) / O. Uperenko (LVA) MINI ALL4 Racing - 12h 46m 40s
51. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Gottschalk (GER) MINI JCW Rally – 17h 22m 11s
*17:30 local time tbc
Source: X-raid Team press release