The third day was not nearly as hard on the teams as yesterday was, a relief for all and even salvation for some.
Per Dakar's official site, here's what racers went through today in the rally. "The pressure endured by the competitors yesterday, to a very late hour for some will drop a notch on the route to Chilecito. The decrease in mileage and intensity will allow the competitors to enjoy the majestic landscape. The red earthen tracks overlooking cliffs or plunging into canyons will take the Dakar to the heart of one of Argentina’s must beautiful regions."
"However, the competitors will have to resist the temptation of tourism, especially in the bike and quad categories for which the route holds several bumpy sections in store. After avoiding thousands of rocks, all it takes is one to ruin this splendid day!"
Nasser Al-Attiyah continued to push, hoping to escape the pursuing Toyota Hilux. However, Giniel de Villiers was perfect throughout the 284kms today. Despite his reun, he would not be named the winner of the stage. That honor would go to Orlando Terranova, who also won the first stage of Dakar.
The Peugeots are starting to find their footing with the Sainz/Cruz pairing placing fourth in the third stage. In general classification, The Toyota trails Al-Attiyah's Mini by just over five minutes.
KTM was on top again, retaking the reigns from Honda, but doing so with Austrian Matthias Walkner, who won the stage in his debut Dakar. Joan Barreda still is ahead in the general classification, ending the day a solid third with Marco Coma splitting the two and trying to make up some time.
Per ASO, "Stage Two was judged difficult by even the elite riders, the organisers decided to halt the forty or so riders who had not yet reached CP3. In order to avoid penalising the riders who managed to finish the special, the race officials decided to apply a fixed time to all these riders, with the slowest time recorded between CP3 and the finish of the special used as a reference. Since this time represented 51% of the total time that the rider in question took, the riders stopped at CP3 had 51% of their time between the start and CP3 added, to give them their overall times for the stage."
Favorite Ignacio Casale lost precious time today after missing the start, now five minutes and 36 seconds adrift of the lead. This stage belonged to Argentina's own, putting their own first and second with Lucas Bonetto on point. Rafał Sonik maintains control in the general standings though, ending the third stage in third place.
After a slow start, the Kamaz beasts are coming on strong now, backing up their Stage Two victory with a 1-2 result today. They now split the Tatra with the Mardeev/Belyaev/Svistunov trio leading the way. Seven minutes and 55 seconds back is the Tatra, which holds just three seconds over the second Kamaz truck.