Dakar 2024 – Stage 3 Highlights

DAY 4: Stage 3 – January 8, 2024 – Route: Al Duwadimi > Al Salamiya: Liaison 295km and Special 438km

– Another mammoth challenge awaited the convoy on Monday’s Stage 3 with a huge variety of terrain covered on the special stage ahead of the remaining 299km of the Marathon Stage on Tuesday. One person who will not forget today in a hurry is Brazilian Lucas Moraes, who claimed his first Ultimate category stage victory driving the Toyota GR DKR Hilux with co-driver Armand Monleon alongside him. Moraes, 32, said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling and I have to give it up for Armand and the team for the work they’ve done. I dedicate this victory to my daughter who has been in hospital the last four days, but now she’s better. It was very tough for me being away from home but now this win means a lot.”

– The drivers behind Moraes went all out in the race for overall Ultimate positions with three-time winner Carlos Sainz nearly overturning his Audi RS Q e-tron as he finished sixth to put himself just 29 seconds behind early leader Yazeed Al Rajhi, who is excelling on home soil. Spaniard Sainz, 61, revealed: “We had a problem with navigation at the beginning and lost five minutes. Then I was really going fast and reached the dust of Mattias (Ekström). Then I hit a hole and nearly rolled the car.”

– American Mitch Guthrie Jr. set a blistering pace in his Taurus T3 Max to bank his first Challenger class stage win of the year and cut the gap to Polish leader Eryk Goczal as fast charging Spaniard Cristina Gutiérrez moved up to fourth overall behind him. Guthrie Jr., 27, declared: “We were pushing hard with a group of guys at the front of the Challenger class. Our goal for this rally is to have clean days and this was another one.”

– Argentine Kevin Benavides was the class act on two wheels as the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider finished one minute and 11 seconds ahead of American Ricky Brabec as teammate Toby Price edged a top-10 finish in ninth. Benavides now climbs above the Australian into sixth overall with Daniel Sanders eighth and Luciano Benavides ninth as Sam Sunderland suffered with mechanical problems. Defending champion Kevin, who broke a bone in his leg training just one month ago, said: “I started very focused on my navigation. It was a long stage and I worked hard all day.”

– Tuesday’s Stage 4 sees the field tackle the remaining 299km special stage laid out between Al Salamiya and Al Hofuf before race vehicles can receive a proper service from their mechanic crews.

2024 Dakar Rally overall standings after Stage 3

Ultimate Car
1. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) 13h 07m 29s
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP) +29s
3. Mattias Ekström (SWE) +8m 26s

Challenger Car
1. Eryk Goczal (POL) 14h 19m 57s
2. Marek Goczel (POL) +15m 47s
3. Mitch Guthrie Jr. (USA) +15m 58s

1. Ross Branch (BWA) 14h 32m 51s
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL) +3m 11s
3. Ricky Brabec (USA) +5m 08s

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