E Renewed leadership change at the Dakar in South America: X- Raid BMW driver Stephane Peterhansel coped best on the demanding third stage and secured the best time of the day with an almost flawless drive. 'We were able to attack all day. That was a good start into the desert,' said the Frenchman in the bivouac in the evening.
Sand, scree and tall grass
On the 182-kilometer stage from La Rioja to Fiambalá in Argentina, the level of difficulty increased significantly with scree stretches, soft sand and the first high dunes. 'The stage was very varied with a lot of sand and tall grass in between. The material was also badly used,' reported the new overall leader of his day's ride.
Not all of them got along so well with the conditions. X-Raid teammate Nani Roma, who was still leading after the first stage, rolled over the roof again with his X3 and then had to be treated by a doctor. 'He overturned exactly where Carlos Sainz rolled last year. It's very tricky,' Peterhansel tried to excuse his BMW colleague's mishap.
Sainz first pursuer of Peterhansel
Sainz, on the other hand, has learned from his mistake last year. 'El Matador' drove in a controlled manner and took comparatively little risk. With the second best time of the day, the Spaniard also secured second place in the overall standings behind Peterhansel. 'That was an extremely demanding stage, both physically and driver-wise, with unbelievably high temperatures in the cockpit. We lost a bit of time on Stéphane Peterhansel today. But especially at the beginning of a Dakar, it is important to get the car to the finish unharmed. Our days are coming still. '
His teammate wasn't doing quite so well. Nasser Al Attiyah, who started in the lead in the morning, lost valuable minutes with a puncture. In addition, the Arab lost his bearings for a short time: 'My co-driver Timo Gottschalk had to get out to look for the way at a canyon. That cost time, but there are still enough opportunities to catch up.'
Last year's winner Giniel de Villiers got it even worse. Just like Roma, the South African rolled over the side with his Race Touareg and lost a lot of time. With Mark Miller, the fourth was able to get alongVW drivers maintain their position in the top group and settle in fourth place.
VW surprises with difficulty level
VW Motorsport Director Kris Nissen gave in the first difficult stage was somewhat contrite: 'We knew that it would be much more demanding from today. We were, however, a little surprised at how difficult it actually was and how slow the average speed was on the track.'
The Dane did not particularly like the large deficit of de Villiers: 'After a driving mistake he put the car on its side and damaged the engine. Unfortunately, that could not be repaired on site and Giniel had to wait a long time for the race truck . ' In the evening, however, Nissen also highlighted the positive aspects. 'Second, third and fourth place is still good. The next few days will be very difficult again. The motto is simply survive.'