Joan Barreda delivered a high-level performance on the tricky route leading to San Salvador de Jujuy and won his first special stage of the year claiming a huge lead over his rivals as he aims for his first Dakar win.
- Barreda claimed a 12min29sec win on stage 3
- Barreda leads the general standings by over 10mins
- It was his 14th stage win, now equal with Fabrizio Meoni
- Sunderland’s 2nd moves him to second overall
- Renet secured a career best 3rd on stage 3
- Navigation was difficult with many waypoints
- Price lost 22 mins slipping to 5th overall
- High altitude was a factor for many
- Cristian Munoz Espana leads Malle Moto
Stage 3 brought a change of scenery and the first portions of off-terrain rallying. However, it is the steep climb in altitude with passages above 5,000 metres that could wreak havoc among the competitors at the end of the day. River bed crossings, plus fast and winding tracks on the first part of the stage gave way to a finish on bumpy and trial-like terrain, requiring the competitors to remain watchful and keep their cool to avoid losing out big time on the route to San Salvador de Jujuy.
Joan Barreda hit his rivals with a veritable hammer blow on this third stage. On all out attack from the very first kilometres of the special, the HRC rider soon opened up an impressive gap, in particular reaching the first time check point with a 20-minute lead over the struggling Toby Price.
“Today was one of the days that we picked and we prepared for it from yesterday to attack,” told Barreda. I was lucky and I did a good job. It was a really tough stage but I kept my focus during all the stage, so I am really happy with the work.
“It's still too early to talk about winning. There are still seven thousand five hundred kilometres to go. I'm not sure. This situation, this year is different than other years, so, for sure, we just need to keep focused and to keep riding like this”.
Price loses command of the general standings to Barreda whilst Sam Sunderland made the most of a tough day to finish 13'29 behind the Spaniard and overtake Paulo Goncalves in the general standings.
“It was definitely a day for navigation on the first part. It was tricky,” told Sunderland. “I tried to take my time and find the good way, but really I was searching a lot. I found Toby after twenty kilometres coming toward me and he left maybe nine minutes before me. It was tricky, you know; we tried to take time and find the way, but when you can't find the way, you can't find the way.
By finishing 16 minutes behind Joan Barreda, Pierre-Alexandre Renet the Frenchman put in a very good performance on only his second Dakar to pick up third place on the day, in front of many favourites for outright victory. The former enduro world champion perfectly handled a tricky start to the stage and will now have to be taken seriously by all his rivals.
“It's a good result for me, in fact I'm almost surprised,” said Renet. “The stage was long and the altitude is starting to have an effect. I've got a headache. I hope that I'll get used to it because it's a quite a bad one.
“At the start of the stage, the navigation was quite difficult, but I stuck to the task well and then I attacked. It all went perfectly, but if you mess up at the start on a way-point, it can become very difficult to find the right direction again.”
In losing more than 34 minutes to Joan Barreda on his third day of the rally, Xavier de Soultrait spoiled his fine performances on the first two days. The Frenchman is now at the wrong end of a gap that will be difficult to close on his main rivals, even if all is not lost yet.
Photos: HRC Honda, Yamaha Racing, KTM Images
Results - General Standings After Stage 3