Sainz wins Dakar third stage as Al-Attiyah extends lead

·2-min read
Sainz en route to stage three honours (AFP/FRANCK FIFE)

Carlos Sainz won Tuesday's third stage of the Dakar Rally to mark the first success of Audi's new hybrid car in the gruelling road trip in the Saudi Arabian desert.

While Sainz, 59 and a three-time Dakar winner, celebrated his 40th career stage win Nasser Al-Attiyah tightened his grip on the overall lead.

The Qatari, on the hunt for his fourth title, pulled 37 minutes clear of Sebastien Loeb, who lost a chunk of time when his car's prop shaft broke.

The nine-time world rally champion limped to the finish line after 255 kilometres around Al Qaisumah in 37th place.

"It was a bad day," the French rally veteran said.

"We only had front wheel drive from ten kilometres after the start. We did 250 km like this. Crossing the dunes and all the difficult conditions we had with this two-wheel drive was really tough."

Sainz took the day's honours by over half a minute from South African Henrik Lategan with Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel guiding his Audi hybrid into third.

Sainz, almost two-and-a-half hours adrift in 26th overall, commented: "We have been driving fast and learning about the car. It's the first race and we are getting used to it."

Al-Attiyah came in eighth, with Loeb now trailing by 37min40sec.

"I think Seb had a problem with the car and we just tried to take it easy without any risks," reported Al-Attiyah.

"I'm quite happy to finish the stage without any problems. This will be good for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a very long stage," he added ahead of Wednesday's monster 707km drive to Riyadh with 465km of specials.

Portugal's Joaquim Rodrigues won his first ever bike stage in his sixth Dakar ahead of American Mason Klein and his KTM teammate Toby Price of Australia.

The bike standings are led by another KTM rider, England's Sam Sunderland by four seconds from Yamaha's Adrien Van Beveren.

Rodrigues, whose brother-in-law Paulo Goncalves died competing in the 2020 Dakar, is lying 17th.

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