Dakar: Stage 3 Granada to Rabat notes

Stage 3: Granada to Rabat January 2, 2005 Liaison 6 km - Special 10 km - Liaison 557 km Total 573 km Before leaving Spain, competitors will race a final 10 km special, swift and spectacular, run on military ground near Granada. Stage...

Stage 3: Granada to Rabat
January 2, 2005
Liaison 6 km - Special 10 km - Liaison 557 km
Total 573 km

Before leaving Spain, competitors will race a final 10 km special, swift and spectacular, run on military ground near Granada.

Stage 3: 2005-01-02, Granada to Rabat.
Photo by A.S.O.
The liaison to Algeciras, where they will embark, includes a passage control in Antequera. After the boat crossing, the first part of the route on African soil is very smooth running, with a stretch of motorway from Tangiers to Rabat, where the finish may nevertheless be late.

For the 4th time in its history the Dakar will set up its bivouac in the Moroccan capital, after previous visits in 1994, 1999 and 2002.

General:

08:35 Farewell Europe
Privateers, newcomers but also favourites have been waiting for this moment since the beginning of their preparation. While the old-timers often say that the serious business starts on African soil, the first half-day in Morocco should be rather cool. The liaison to Rabat will be exclusively on a 300km highway, all the way from Tangers after the boat crossing from Algeciras.

But before that, the competitors will face a last European test with a fast and spectacular special staged on a military ground outside Granada. The 100% dirt course should crown fast and technical drivers and prove to be well different from the one on the beach of Castelldefels for stage 1.

Winner of the first super special, David Fretigne(YAM -- n12) will do his best to keep hold of his slim 8" leadership while Robby Gordon's (VW -- n317) task to enter Africa in first spot overall on four wheels promises to be tricky with only a 2 sec advance on Masuoka.

Bike:

09:07 Ready for the special
The first bikers have made it to the start of the10km special on the military terrain of Armilla, after a 6km liaison from Granada. The first man to take off will be Frenchman Nicolas Bayle (HON -- n63). For the bike race, the starting order will be in the reverse order of the overall. David Fretigne (YAM -- n12) winner of the first special will therefore be the last man to take off. The competitors will be leaving every 30sec.

09:40 Bonnet first leader
After the first 28 bikers have made it to the finish line of the 10km special, Pierrick Bonnet (KTM -- n52) has clocked the provisional fastest time in 9'00. The Frenchman leads ahead of USA's Kevin Heath (KTM -- n118) and Belgian Eric Palante (HON -- n122). All the favourites are still to leave.

10:01 Sala as expected
After suffering clutch problems during the first special of the rally and finishing in the 183rd spot, Giovanni Sala (KTM -- n14), one of the official KTM-Repsol riders who left among the early starters of the day, has clocked the best time so far in 8'36". The Italian leads with a 3sec advantage on Frenchman Dominique Bastouilh (KTM -- n31) and 24sec on Pierrick Bonnet (KTM -- n52).

10:25 Rivera new leader
Early leader Giovanni Sala has just seen his best time beaten by Victor Rivera (KTM -- n39) in 8'35". The Spaniard has a 1sec advantage on Sala on the finish line of the Granada special. Current third is Alain Hermet (SUZ -- n48). All the main favourites are still expected on the start line.

10:56 Harden takes the lead
With 173 bikers on the finish line of the Granada special, USA's Scot Harden (KTM -- n17) has just clocked the provisional best time of the day in 8'23". The US KTM-Red Bull rider has a current 12sec lead on Victor Rivera (KTM -- n39) and 13sec on Giovanni Sala (KTM -- n14).

10:57 Changes upfront
The leading positions of the stage 3 special in Granda has completely changed. Alfie Cox (KTM -- n3) has, by quite a margin, beaten the previous best time of the day in 7'59", becoming the first biker of the day to go under the 8min mark. The South African has a 17sec lead on Gorrara (KTM -- n130) and 22sec on Casteu (KTM -- n42).

11:27 Fretgne wins special
After clinching the Barcelona super special two days ago, David Fretigne (YAM -- n12) has just claimed stage 3 special in Granada. The Frenchman managed a time of 7'57" on the 10km circuit, beating Alfie Cox (KTM -- n3) by just 2sec and Cyril Despres (KTM -- n2) by 3sec. Spaniard newcomer Jordi Duran (KTM -- n16) manages an excellent 4th place, just 9sec adrift, ahead of his KTM-Repsol team Marc Coma (KTM -- n6). Fretigne now has a 11sec lead on Despres in the overall standings. Third is Kellon Walsh (KTM -- n21) who clocked the 10th best time on the day after his excellent 5th spot in Barcelona.

Car:

11:49 De Villiers first leader
The first favourites have made it to the finish line of the 10km special. As it stands, Giniel de Viliers (NIS -- n314) has clocked the fastest time in 8'01". Second is USA's Robby Gordon (VW -- n317) at 2sec while third is the other Race Touareg driver Bruno Saby (VW -- n0307) at 3sec.

11:57 McRae takes command
Scotsman Colin McRae has the provisional best time of the special in 7'48". On his official Nissan, McRae has a 6sec advantage on Peterhansel (MIT -- n306) and a 10sec lead on Vatanen (NIS -- n311). 15 cars have made it to the finish so far.

12:21 McRae overall leader
If things remain like this, Scotsman Colin McRae (NIS -- n308) with his current best time of the Granada special in 7'48" is the new rally leader. In the overall standings, the former WRC World champion has a 1sec lead on Robby Gordon (VW -- n317) and 2sec on his team mate Giniel De Villiers (NIS -- n314).

13:47 McRae officially wins
With all cars on the finish line of stage 2 special, Colin McRae officially wins the day's race in a final time of 7'48". The Scotsman earns himself his third Dakar win after victories in Ayoun El Atrous and Dakar last year. McRae climbs on top of the overall standings with a second advantage on Robby Gordon.

Truck:

13:53 Bekx again
After the bikes and cars, the first 47 trucks have completed the 10kms of the Granada special. Like in the Barcelona super special, Hans Bekx (DAF -- n524) has the best time of the day in 9'56". The Dutchman leads ahead of Firdaus Kabirov (KAM -- n520) and Gerard De Rooy (DAF -- n516). Title holder Vladimir Tchaguine (KAM -- n515) has to settle with 7th position.

-www.dakar.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Colin McRae , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Giovanni Sala , Bruno Saby , Marc Coma , David Fretigne , Firdaus Kabirov , Kevin Heath , Hans Bekx , Pierrick Bonnet , Dominique Bas