Sainz up to fourth for Team Peugeot Total in Dakar Rally
With only a tenth of the race gone - at the end of day three of 13 - the brand-new Peugeot 2008 DKR had continued to make progress on the Dakar Rally in the hands of the event's most successful-ever driver line-up.
Compared to the longest stage of the rally, yesterday's action was gentler: 284 kilometres that took the crews to Chilecito, close to the Chilean border.
After the demanding special stage of the previous day, Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres overcame their fatigue to attack day three of the Dakar. While rough, the third stage had the advantage of finishing early, allowing the crews to unwind and prepare for tomorrow at the bivouac in Chilecito.
Nonetheless, the action still provided a big challenge, with open and fast roads that made up classic Dakar territory, through the heart of one of the most beautiful regions in Argentina. There was plenty of dust and dramatic scenery, presenting the drivers with a final challenge before they head into Chile tomorrow.
Rally legend Carlos Sainz started the day sixth overall, and continued his rapid yet reliable run today. The Spaniard was able to up his pace, to finish the stage fourth fastest and improve his position in the general classification to fourth as well. "I am very happy: we had no problem with the car at all today and we managed to find a good rhythm on the stage, so here we are," he said. "I enjoyed it: another day gone and we are still in a good position."
Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel was seventh on the stage after a clean run, crucially adding to the sum total of kilometres completed for the brand-new machine. "On the whole it was good, apart from the dust," he said. "As we started off 16th this morning, it was difficult. I managed to overtake some people at the beginning, but afterwards it was harder to see. This was a shorter and easier stage compared to yesterday but the performance is good: we saw that we were very quick in the straight sections in particular, a bit less fast when it is narrow with vegetation," said the Frenchman, who finished seventh on the stage and now lies 16th overall. "To be able to show the sort of potential that we have been able to so far on this rally was very encouraging."
Cyril Despres made yet more important progress, posting 14th time on the stage - the highest placing of his three-day four-wheel career - and climbing to 20th overall. "I really enjoyed the stage today; twisty and a really good sensation with the car," he reported. "I know I have to learn a lot, but luckily I have a very experienced co-driver who can help me through it. I've just been trying to adapt my mind to the car mentality: anywhere that is dangerous or has holes or rocks, you can go twice as fast in a car as on a bike. But there are other places - especially braking and twisty corners - where you are twice as fast on a bike. This is my challenge, but I find out more all the time."
Team Peugeot Total principal Bruno Famin commented: "We're leaving Argentina with Carlos knocking on the door of the podium and the other two cars making their way up the field: that's a real satisfaction given the amount of testing we had before coming here. As always we're very aware of the distance ahead and the fact that things will only get harder. But we've got all three cars in good condition and all three drivers doing an exceptional job. We maintain our humble approach: there is still a very long way to go and the particular challenge of the Atacama Desert tomorrow."
Results after SS3:
1st. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Matthieu Baumel (F) Mini 9hr 21min 26sec
2nd. Giniel de Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (D) Toyota 9h 26min 44sec
3rd. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Ronnie Graue (ARG) Mini 9hr 39min 41sec
4th. Carlos Sainz (E)/Lucas Cruz (E) Peugeot 2008 DKR 9hr 40min 58sec
5th. Yazeed Al-Rahji (SAU)/Timo Gottschalk (D) Toyota 9hr 41min 34sec
6th. Krzysztof Holowczyc (PL)/Xavier Panseri (F) Mini 9hr 46min 50sec
7th. Erik van Loon (NL)/Wouter Roesegar (NL) Mini 9hr 49min 09sec
8th. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NL)/Tom Colsoul (B) Toyota 9hr 57min 48sec
9th. Carlos Sousa (P)Paulo Fiuza (P) Toyota 10h 03min 18sec
10th. Christian Lavieille (F)/Pascal Maimon (F) Toyota 10hr 05min 04sec
16th. Stéphane Peterhansel (F)/J-P Cottret (F) Peugeot 2008 DKR 10hr 34min 15sec
20th. Cyril Despres (F)/Gilles Picard (F) Peugeot 2008 DKR 10hr 51min 37 sec