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Sunderland keeps slim Dakar lead

Ticking off another solid day of racing at the 2022 Dakar Rally, GASGAS Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland and Daniel Sanders have both safely completed the relatively simple, but super-fast, third stage. For Sunderland, the Brit expertly assisted with opening the special after setting off in second place before a minor issue finding a waypoint caused him to lose a little bit of time. With all riders setting a similar pace, he ultimately placed 17th, just seven-and-a-half minutes behind the stage winner to retain the overall rally lead. Sanders meanwhile secured the fifth fastest time and now lies fifth in the overall provisional classification.

Sam Sunderland:“Today was very sandy, and very fast! I had a little bit of difficulty finding a waypoint, which allowed a few riders to catch up with me, so I knew I’d lost a bit of time there. But overall, it wasn’t too bad. We’re in for a really long stage tomorrow so starting further back is a good thing and I’m excited for a long day on the bike.”

As the 23rd rider to enter stage three after his little detour yesterday, Daniel Sanders was on the gas from the moment he entered the special until he roared across the finish line in Al Qaisumah. Despite being slightly frustrated that the stage was cut short due to heavy rain, the Aussie remains upbeat and near the front of the provisional standings. Sanders is now just under nine minutes behind the race leader, Sam Sunderland.

Daniel Sanders:“It was a good day today. It’s a shame that the stage was cut short as I had a solid pace going and feel like I’d have made up some more time on the guys in front. The navigation was a little bit easier that previous days, so I was able to put my head down and charge all day pretty much. I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has secured his best stage finish of the 2022 Dakar Rally so far, bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in an impressive second place. On a shortened, but very fast special, Kevin Benavides finished eighth, with Matthias Walkner just two places behind in 10th. Returning to the race following his technical issue on stage two, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci completed the day in 22nd.

Afer his fifth-place result on stage two, Toby Price knew he would have to push right from the start to make up time on his rivals ahead. However, with times so tight, it was tough for the Australian to claw back much more than a few minutes. Maintaining good speed over the entire special, Price was able to ultimately fight his way up to second, just over one-minute down on the eventual stage winner by the end of the day. The result moves Toby up to 14th overall, as he continues to regain the time lost on stage one.

Toby Price:“Today has been a good day – super fast, so you can’t really make up time on anyone. We had some lines in the dunes that you could see, so I just tried to make a good clean stage and not make any big mistakes. I did have one little get-off, but other than that, nothing major. The results are close, but we’re going in the right direction, and we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Impressing once again with both his speed and consistency, Kevin Benavides rode a solid stage three to claim eighth place. As the third rider into the special, it meant that the Argentinian was soon up near the front of the pack, opening the stage along with another three riders. Thanks to his strong run of form, despite losing time on the difficult to navigate opening stage, Kevin now lies eighth in the provisional overall standings.

Kevin Benavides:“I set off third today and so pushed right from the start. After the refueling I caught up to the guys in front and we rode together as a group of four in the end, which was good as the pace was quite high. Day by day I’m getting back some of the time I lost with a mistake on stage one, so things are going well.”

As the 14th rider to take to today’s stage, Matthias Walkner had hoped to use it to his advantage and chase down the riders ahead. With the special shortened and times extremely close, despite his overall speed on the stage, Walkner was unable to retake as much time as he would have liked. However, making the minimum of mistakes, the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion was able to steer his KTM 450 RALLY to the finish in 10th place, successfully defending his third-place position in the overall event standings.

Matthias Walkner:“It was a really, really fast stage today. The guys in front did a good job of navigating, so even though we had some lines in the wet sand, it was hard to make up that much time. I’m lying third in the overall, but it’s still very early, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Suffering a technical issue yesterday, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was forced to withdraw from the stage. Returning to the team at the bivouac, the electrical problem was found and rectified, and the Italian rider was cleared to rejoin the race, although he will no longer feature in the event classification. Setting off 51st into today’s stage three, Petrucci immediately began fighting for a top-20 position, despite the traffic he had to encounter. A small mistake towards the end of the stage cost him a couple of minutes, but Danilo was able to hold on for an impressive 22nd place.

Danilo Petrucci:“I’m really happy to be able to continue riding today after the issue I had yesterday. Yes, I’ve lost one stage, but it feels good to be racing again. I really enjoyed the stage today, the goal was just to get to the end, but it was very fast and really good fun. There were a lot of lines in the sand, but I still tried to read the roadbook and learn more in the way of my own navigation. I did make a couple of small mistakes, but it feels so good to be back on the bike. I have nine more stages to continue learning and I’m looking forward to it.”

Continuing to consistently post impressive stage results at this year’s Dakar Rally, Adrien Van Beveren now lies just four seconds from the provisional lead after the completion of the third timed special. With a relatively easy 255-kilometre stage offering little to separate the riders, the Yamaha WR450F Rally rider secured the ninth fastest time to retain his second-place ranking in the overall classification. Completing a largely positive day of racing for the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, Andrew Short claimed sixth with Ross Branch just outside the top 10 in 11th.

Adrien Van Beveren’s highly positive start to the 2022 Dakar Rally continued through stage three with the Frenchman placing ninth on the high speed timed special. With his strong finish comfortably defending his second-place ranking in the provisional classification, the 30-year-old will now enter stage four with an advantageous starting position and aim to deliver yet another impressive result.

Clawing back more time on stage three, Andrew Short was able to make up nearly four minutes on the provisional leader after another strong ride to complete the special as the sixth fastest rider. Thoroughly enjoying the rain-soaked sand dunes which have formed a large part of all the timed specials so far in this year’s Dakar, the American looks now forward to stage four as he begins to work his way up the leaderboard.

Hovering just outside the top 10 in the overall provisional classification after stage three is Ross Branch. Recording the 11th fastest time on the shortened stage, the Botswana native now advances to 11th in the general rankings and goes into stage four, the longest of the Dakar, with a highly favourable starting position.

Consistent stage results are paying off for Camelia Liparoti in the Light Prototype class. Maintaining her solid start to the rally, the Italian now advances to 10th in the provisional classification following her 16th-place finish on stage three.

The longest stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally is scheduled for tomorrow. Taking competitors from Al Qaisumah to Riyadh, the 465-kilometre special comprises fast desert tracks, punishing sand dunes, and a series of technical rocky canyons near the end which will require accurate navigation in order to secure a strong result.

Adrien Van Beveren – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

“Today was good. It was very fast with a lot of open desert and with simple navigation, so nobody made any major mistakes. So far, the rally is going really well for myself and the team. I feel great on the bike and everything is perfect at the moment, so I will keep focused and continue to take things day by day.”

Andrew Short – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

“Stage three was pretty good. I rode smooth and consistent, just maintaining a solid pace throughout and I ended up sixth which is pretty decent. I didn’t make any mistakes and it was a relatively simple stage, some high speed navigation thrown in but nothing too crazy. The terrain is simply amazing after all the rain that has fallen here recently so riding wise it’s been so much fun and I’m excited for more of the same tomorrow.”

Ross Branch – Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team

“It was a really good day for me today. I was a little off the pace though, but not too far off. Navigation was pretty easy and everyone was close in times, but by finishing 11th it means I have good starting position for tomorrow. All in all, a good day, no mistakes, and I’m really happy with my riding. I just need to up the pace a little tomorrow and I’m looking forward to stage four.”

Monster Energy Honda Team riders turned out solid performances in today’s looping Al Qaisumah special, with sights firmly set on tomorrow’s longest 2022 Dakar Rally special. Brabec, Cornejo, Barreda and Quintanilla will all be looking to make up time and positions by the time they reach Riyadh.
Today’s third stage played out over an unscheduled loop in Al-Qaisumah on an altered route, shortened to a 255-kilometre special and a 380-kilometre link section. There were 214 kilometres of liaison to be tackled on this chilly morning, with temperatures below 10°C, before reaching the start of the day’s timed special. The stage was raced over fast sandy tracks, some type two dune ridges and some twelve kilometres of off-piste tracks.
Ricky Brabec was Monster Energy Honda Team’s best-placed rider today on this third stage, finishing sixth on the day in RallyGP after having set off from fifteenth position. Fine work for the American who is attempting to claw his way back up the rankings stage by stage.
José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo made a good recovery in the shortened special. The young Chilean continues to make notable progress, posting eleventh, a little over five minutes shy of the day’s winner. Barreda’s role as the day’s track-opener could have gone far worse for the Spanish rider who had been expected to drop considerable time compared to the frontrunners. By the end of the day Joan had only conceded ten-and-a-half minutes to the eventual stage winner. Bang Bang currently holds twelfth place, less than 24 minutes behind the overall rally leader. Pablo Quintanilla planned the day with tomorrow’s stage in mind, however, he dropped a fair amount of time to finish twenty-second, although holding on to an intermediate position in the general rankings close to his main rivals.
Tomorrow’s stage
The fourth stage will see the entire Dakar bivouac transfer to the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. It will feature the longest special stage of the race, with 465 kilometres out of a total distance of 707 kilometres. From Al Qaisumah, riders and drivers will encounter a myriad of terrain types, each one more demanding than the previous: some 200 kilometres of fast track, dunes, rocks and stones and oueds – dry rivers crossings – which could cause some shake-ups in the general standings.

Ricky Brabec  2
The day was fine. The rain a couple of days ago meant that the sand and dirt is still quite wet. When you start up in the rear of the pack, there’s not much navigation and you can see the lines go forever across the valleys and the dunes, so it makes it pretty easy from the back. Today was a fast day, one of the fastest. It’s only day three but we’re a little bit behind. We’ll wait to see how it goes tomorrow and we’ll keep pushing to see what happens at the end.

Pablo Quintanilla  7
A sandy stage, with a lot of dunes and some navigation. I pushed at the beginning with some good pace in case anyone made a mistake and I would be right there. The important thing will be tomorrow’s stage, and at the end of the day I realised that the bunch in front of me navigated well and I slowed down a bit, dropping a few minutes. Tomorrow will be the longest special stage of the rally and possibly one of the most difficult. We have a good position to attack tomorrow. We’ll see if we can make up a few minutes in the general standings.

José Ignacio Cornejo  11
I’m happy with today’s stage. It was a long and entertaining one. The times were very tight, so you couldn’t make much of a difference, but it was possible to get a good position for tomorrow’s stage. I think it went well and I didn’t lose any time to the stage frontrunners, so we’ll try to make it up day by day focusing hard. We’ll see what’s in store for tomorrow, hopefully it will be more linear and more fluid and with a bit less navigation than yesterday.

Joan Barreda  88
It was a good stage, I think I didn’t do too badly. I opened the entire special and I felt strong, with good navigation until about kilometre 200, where there was a waypoint in the dunes that took me a few minutes to validate. I think I lost about 10 minutes until the group arrived. In any case, I’m happy with the job done today.

Provisional Results Stage Three (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally

1. Joaquim Rodrigues (POR), Hero, 2:34:41
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:35:44 +1:03
3. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 2:35:55 +1:14
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 2:36:07 +1:26
5. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 2:37:36 +2:55
17. Sam Sunderland (GASGAS) 2:42:11

Other KTM
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 2:39:09 +4:28
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 2:39:33 +4:52
22. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 2:44:02 +9:21

Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 3 of 12 stages

1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 11:13:40
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 11:13:44 +0:04
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 11:15:10 +1:30
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 11:17:35 +3:55
5. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 11:22:34 +8:54
Other KTM
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 11:31:24 +17:45
14. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 11:40:01 +26:21