Dakar 2023: race suspended, Chicherit winner, what to remember from the third stage

After the shower of punctures the day before, a deluge cut short the drivers on Tuesday during the 3rd stage of the Dakar between Al-Ula and Hail which cost the Spaniard Carlos Sainz the first place of the provisional general in the car category. The organizers announced shortly after 2:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. in Paris) that they had, as they had done a few minutes before for the motorcycles, suspended the stage for safety reasons due to heavy rain.

The stage was neutralized at kilometer 378 of the special, which was to have 447, and the competitors were rerouted to return directly to the camp transformed into a field of mud.

Chicherit takes his revenge

The Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit (Prodrive) however managed to take his revenge after the setbacks of the day before and his five punctures which showered his hopes of final victory.

“It’s great. Of course we are disappointed after what happened (Monday), but we have proven what we can do so we will stay focused as we had planned by doing good lap times and points for the world rally-raid championship”, reacted the winner of the last rally in Morocco.

Leader of the general classification at the start, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Audi) is however the big loser of the day: forced to stop at km 213 due to a problem with the left wheel, he finished the stage with a delay of 56 minutes. As a result, the Qatari and defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah succeeds him at the top of the still provisional general classification.

Lattegan follows

Behind Chicherit, South African Henk Lattegan took second place with his Toyota, at 3 min 26 sec, and Argentinian Orlando Terranova third, at 5 min 4 sec, according to provisional results.

In the provisional general classification, Al-Attiyah is now ahead of the Saudi Yazeed Al-Rajhi, 2nd at 13 min 20 sec, and the Frenchman St├ęphane Peterhansel, 3rd at 20 min 45 sec.

S├ębastien Loeb (Prodrive), 2nd in 2022, suffered further damage after the triple puncture the day before, and lost more than 35 additional minutes, which put him in 26th place overall.

Brabec in the hospital

The bikers also had to return prematurely to the camp transformed into mud pools, and covered themselves with plastic bags to protect themselves from the cold.

Before the suspension of the race, the Australian Daniel Sanders (GasGas) won the third stage, also marked by the abandonment of the American Ricky Brabec, winner in 2020 and victim of a fall at kilometer 274 of the special event which necessitated his transfer to a hospital. While he had knowingly braked the day before so as not to win and not have to open the track on Tuesday, Sanders crossed the finish line first this time, according to provisional results.

He was 6 min 19 sec ahead of American Skyler Howes (Husqvarna), who finished third on Monday and played the track opening bonus game on Tuesday. Third place went to the American Mason Klein (KTM), rewarded with almost six minutes of bonuses, 6 min 59 sec from Sanders.

In the provisional general classification, Sanders is the leader ahead of Klein, 2nd at 4 min 4 sec, and Benavides, 3rd at 4 min 38 sec.

This year, a new rule has been introduced for the motorcycle category: bonuses for riders who lead the way and “make the mark”. The first three drivers who spend the most time opening the special between the start and the refueling benefit from time bonuses deducted from their time at the finish.

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