Sports Desk, Jan 4 (EFE).- Carlos Sainz (Team Audi Sport) on Tuesday claimed his 40th stage victory in the third section of the Dakar Rally car race, while Nasser al-Attiyah managed to maintain the overall lead despite a disappointing result.
The Spaniard was the first to cross the finish line of the stage held within Saudi Arabia’s al-Qaisumah with a time of two hours, 26 minutes and 51 seconds, to lead his Audi RS Q e-tron to its first stage win on its debut season.
“I’m happy with the car. We have been driving fast and learning about the car,” Sainz said afterwards. “It’s the first race and we are getting used to it.”
At his heel was South Africa’s Henk Lategan (Toyota), who came 38s off the pace, ahead of Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel (Audi), who was one minute and 41 seconds behind Sainz.
Al-Attiyah has had a bitter-sweet day as he skipped disqualification for racing on Monday without connecting the black box and the International Automobile Federation handed him a 5,000-euro-fine and a disqualification warning.
The Qatari ended up eighth in the third stage, five minutes and 10 seconds off the pace, but managed to stay on top of the overall classification as his closest rival Sebastien Loeb also struggled.
“I think Seb had a problem with the car and we just tried to take it easy without any risks,” al-Attiyah said. “I’m quite happy to finish the stage without any problems.”
“Today was a good day for us. I wasn’t surprised to be caught by Carlos because I was going very slowly. It was not a surprise because my main target is Sébastien Loeb not Carlos Sainz,” he added.
Loeb (Bahrain Raid Xtreme) could not build on his Monday’s win, coming in the 26th spot in the third stage, 33 minutes and 34 seconds off the pace.
“It was a bad day. We broke the prop shaft – I think it was the prop shaft – but we only had front-wheel drive from ten kilometers after the start,” the Frenchman said.
“We did 250 km like this. Crossing the dunes and all the difficult conditions we had with this two-wheel-drive was really tough. So, by the end, for sure, I’m disappointed,” he added.
The Frenchman saw the gab behind al-Attiyah widen to 37 minutes and 40 seconds. Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez (Overdrive Toyota) is third in the overall classification 42 minutes and six seconds off the pace. EFE