Dakar 2022, Stage 3: Sainz scores first win for electric Audi
Carlos Sainz claimed Audi’s maiden stage victory in the Dakar Rally on Tuesday, while Nasser Al-Attiyah extended his lead in the overall standings despite finishing only eighth.
After a promising performance in Monday's second leg with the third-fastest time, Sainz came to the fore in the shortened 255km Stage 3 near Al Qaisumah, beating Toyota's Henk Lategan to the top spot by just over half a minute.
The three-time Dakar champion trailed Lategan for the majority of the stage, but never allowed the South African to pull up an advantage up front.
Having closed the gap to just 14 seconds at the seventh waypoint, the Spaniard moved in front at the next checkpoint before crossing the finish line with 38 seconds in hand.
The result marked the 40th stage win for Sainz as well as the first for an electric prototype in the top cars division, with Audi running three MGUs on its RS Q e-tron using technology it developed in Formula E.
Sainz's result was backed up by his teammates Stephane Peterhansel and Mattias Ekstrom, who finished third and fifth respectively and less than three minutes off the outright pace in the other two factory Audis.
Peterhansel and Ekstrom were separated by 2014 Dakar winner Nani Roma, who was Bahrain Raid Xtreme's top finisher in fourth after a troubled day for teammate Sebastien Loeb.
The nine-time World Rally champion was down to a two-wheel drive system on his Prodrive-built Hunter prototype following technical issues early on in the stage, with two punctures dealing a further blow to his victory hopes.
The Frenchman ended up dropping more than 30 minutes to the leaders and is provisionally classified 22nd in the stage, 12 places behind the third Prodrive entry of Orlando Terranova.
Loeb's troubles came as a blessing for overnight leader Al-Attiyah, who ended up only eighth-fastest following a lacklustre showing in his factory Toyota.
But the Qatari driver actually returns from the stage with a much bigger lead in the overall standings, moving 37 minutes clear of his nearest rival Loeb and a further five minutes in front of third-placed Lucio Alvarez (Overdrive).
Works Toyota driver Giniel de Villiers sits fourth despite picking up a penalty for hitting a bike rider in Stage 2, with Alvarez's teammate Yazeed Al Rajhi making it four Hilux T1+ cars in the top five.
Two-time DTM champion Ekstrom remains Audi's top representative in the general classification, roughly two hours down on Al-Attiyah in 18th place.
Sainz is another three places behind in 21st while Dakar legend Peterhansel is no longer in the running for overall victory after accidental damage forced him to abandon the opening stage on Sunday.
Overall standings after Stage 3:
|4||207||Giniel de Villiers||TOYOTA||10:16:44||+00:45:22||00:05:00|
|5||205||Yazeed Al Rajhi||TOYOTA||10:18:51||+00:47:29||00:00:00|
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