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The 427km loop in Neom posed a huge challenge as the terrain again included rocky sections with the added challenge of dust.
The third stage was 100 percent Neom, with a 427km special loop featuring 60percent of sand and 20% of rocky sections. There were tricky sections where the dust would not settle, which for the bike pilots hampered vision. Navigation and determination was key to finishing safely.
Carlos Sainz in his Team Bahrain JCW Mini outpaced Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by 3.31minutes to finish on top in stage three. While Al-Attiyah registered a second place finish, another X-Raid Mini driven by Jakub Przygonski was closing in with a similar time, but finished a minute slower.
Formula 1 champ and Dakar rookie, Fernando Alonso makes his way up, creeping into top five and 32nd overall. 13-time champ, Stephane Peterhansel is currently running fifth in the overall standings. The Borgward BX7 Dakar is not too far behind, with Nani Roma managing to keep himself close to the top ten overall, hoping to bounce back in the coming stages. Agrorodeo’s Vaidotas Zala who opened his 2020 campaign with a win in the first stage finished 32nd in stage three pushing him up to 10th place in the standings.
KTM privateer Ross Branch clinched the victory after yesterday’s stage but had a terrible day today. After a crash damaged his shoulder, Branch lost over an hour and ended up finishing at the 25th spot. It was Ricky Brabec who lead the charge for the Monster Energy Team Honda followed by Jose Florimo and Kevin Benavides.
Paulo Goncalves faced technical issues midway but managed to remain in the stage. The Dakar legend cannot contend for the title anymore after the stage 1 mishap had him forfeit the stage. Sebastein Buhler meanwhile, finished the grueling stage at the 20th position while CS Santosh finished at the 50th position
Shero TVS team had a rather good finish today with Adrien Metge completing the stage at the 10th position followed by Lorenzo Santolino at the 12th position. Johnny Aubert too finished at a respectable 20th position. Things however didn’t go well for the Dakar rookie Harith Noah who faced technical issues mid-stage and is now out of the rally.
Factory KTM rider Matthias Walkner lost 20 minutes and finished the stage at the fourth spot while title defender got lost mid-stage but managed to make up for it and finished at the 5th spot.
After Stage 3, Ricky Brabec leads in the overall ranking, followed by teammate Kevin at the second spot. Walkner is currently at the third spot while Price is at the sixth spot.