Tuesday’s journey to Chilecito was shorter than the day before but there were still many challenges for the Dakar Rally racers to overcome. Monster Energy Rally Raid Team’s #305 Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Graue pushed hard to win the stage, elevating their overall position from 10th to 3rd. Terranova has done his homeland proud as the Argentinean driver will be leading the cars tomorrow as they head to Copiapo, Chile. Yesterday’s stage winners, #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel, erred on the side of caution and ended the day in fifth. According to Al-Attiyah, “Our plan was to lose a little bit for tomorrow because tomorrow it is very important to start in at least the top 5 and to push like yesterday when we achieved a very good time.” They’re still in the overall lead 00:05:18 ahead of #303 Giniel De Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz in their Toyota Hilux Pickup. Terranova and Graue are third overall, still chipping away at the gap incurred from their accident on Monday.

Orlando Terranova, Bernardo Graue - Dakar Rally 2015 Stage 3
Monster Energy Rally Raid Team’s #305 Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Graue (Photo Credit: MCH Photo)

Speaking of third, Dakar Rally rookie #325 Yazeed Al Rajhi was the third driver to finish the stage. Al Rajhi hails from Saudi Arabia and has the benefit of Dakar Rally winner Timo Gottschalk in the co-driver seat. They’ve put the Yazeed Racing Toyota Hilux in fifth place on the overall list. Now it’s a matter of staying up there. Still in the mix and making history for Team Peugeot Total is the #304 driven by Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz. They are blazing a trail and clearly adapted to the new 2008 DKR. #302 Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret were 7th on the stage, now 16th overall. #322 Cyril Despres and Gilles Picard were 14th for this segment and now 20th overall. The Coronel Brothers are both out of the race. Their names appeared on the growing Withdrawals List which will get longer and longer as the days go by. The American #308 Gordini has avoided that list so far. Robby Gordon and Johnny Campbell had a good day finishing 15th on the stage but they’re still 40th overall. They face an uphill battle (no pun intended) for them to make it into the top three like they were when the race started.

The other American competitor is #164 Antonio Narino on his own with a 2013 Husqvarna 449. He’s 132nd overall and finished the stage 126th. The Bikes class got a first-time stage winner today with #027 Matthias Walkner, making his Dakar Rally debut a most memorable one with the Red Bull KTM Factory Team. He’s been in the top ten so far but managed to surge ahead and now holds 3rd overall. Walkner’s team leader #1 Marc Coma followed him closely finishing the stage only 00:00:40 behind the Austrian. This puts Coma 4th overall and 00:10:50 behind current leader, #2 Joan Barreda Bort. The Hondas of Team HRC are holding on still on as #7 Paulo Goncalves holds 2nd overall. Another well-known Honda rider is #029 Laia Sanz who has been 16th overall since stage 1.

Matthias Walkner  - Dakar Rally 2015 Stage 3
“The riding was not so bad. I made some little mistakes because it was a little bit dangerous today with many stones and it forced you over the limit, but overall it was quite good. It’s cool, but he went out in front. The important thing in rallying is to navigate well or open the tracks and also be fast. We will see. It’s my first rally and I hope I can enjoy it. After this we can see what the future brings. I’m just doing my best, finding my rhythm and taking it every kilometre by kilometre. I know a little bit about how you have to ride the motorcycle from doing moto-cross, but the different part is the navigation and finding the good way to ride safely, to not make mistakes and go fast” – #027 Matthias Walkner (Photo Credit: Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool)

Quads had a first-time stage winner today too in Argentina’s own #258 Lucas Bonetto. This is his fourth Dakar Rally and taking today’s top prize is a great way to overcome the catastrophic equipment failure in last year’s race. He’s only 13th overall and almost an hour behind current leader, #252 Sergio Lafuente. Although he finished sixth today, the Uruguayan snatched the lead from #251 Rafal Sonik, who was third today and has the same place overall. Another Argentinean, #255 Sebastian Halpern, rounds out this Yamaha Raptor 700 top trio. Defending champion, #250 Ignacio Casale, was hit with a twenty minute penalty, ending his day in 19th but still hanging on to fifth overall. He must make-up that time to keep any hopes of winning this race alive.

When we left off stage 2, the top truck times were separated by seconds. Today was slightly different as the gaps widened but still remain too close for comfort. Two Kamaz Master trucks led the way with #507 Ayrat Mardeev out in front, and now leads the class in general. While #500 Andrey Karginov was 00:01:51 behind with his best performance in the race so far and is now rewarded with the 3rd overall place. On the other hand the stage’s third place was taken by #501 Gerard De Rooy, still fighting to the lead. The building Kamaz Master whitewash remains stunted as #503 Ales Loprais of the Instaforex Loprais Eurol Veka Man team hangs in at second overall, thanks to his fourth place stage finish. Удачи (Good luck), Ales…you’re going to need it against these tough Russian guys.

The Dakar Rally family lost one of their own today. #82 Michal Hernik lost his life while attempting the special stage. The cause of death is unknown at this time. Hernik was racing there for the first time with his friend #70 Pawel Stasiaczek. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Michal Hernik’s family and loved ones.


A Final Word

Stay tuned for our stage 4 recap and watch “The Dakar Rally” on NBC Sports Network. Also check out the official Dakar Rally online resources for everything you wanted to know about this truly epic race:

Website: http://www.dakar.com/
Smartphone apps: http://www.dakar.com/dakar/2015/fr/application-mobile.html
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/dakar
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/103556237880125980314/posts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dakar
Instagram: http://instagram.com/dakarrally/
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/dakarrally
Email: http://www.aso.fr/newsletter/dakar/index.php