Fog, extreme terrain, intense heat and dry conditions defined Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally 2019. Competitors covered a 798km mix of fast stretches and dunes, 331km of which was the special stage.
It was a day of mixed feelings for Hero MotoSports, as one rider broke into top ten while the other two went through some tough times. CS Santosh took the 42nd position in the general standings at the end of day 3. In the stage classification, he finished in 64th position. Teammate Oriol Mena broke into the top ten, finishing the third stage at an impressive eighth position. In overall standings, he has climbed up two positions and is now in 12th place. Joaquim Rodrigues ended the stage with a 46th place finish and stands 31st in the overall standings, climbing up one position from day 2.
JRod lost some time at the beginning of the stage and then at a tricky waypoint that made him and many others lose even more time. Santosh, chose the wrong lens for his goggles, suffered a few crashes and lost time around the same waypoint. Luckily, he didn’t suffer any major injuries or mechanical failures and both riders completed the stage. Oriol Mena was the only Hero MotoSport rider to blaze his way to the top ten.
On day three of Dakar 2019, CS Santosh said: ”It was an extremely difficult stage, throwing a fair share of challenges. I had the wrong lens on for today’s stage and it set me up for a struggle for most of the first part. So, I decided to ride without my goggles, which was really difficult to do. Had a few crashes, lost my way around a waypoint, so in all a very tough day. I am glad to have seen the back of it and still be in the race. ”
On breaking into the top ten, Oriol Mena said: “Today was a really tough stage, the kind that we know Dakar for. Conditions were difficult with a lot of fog in the mountains, many stones and fesh-fesh. The navigation also was quite tricky. So, I decided to ride with caution today, trying to avoid any mistakes and managed to catch all the waypoints. I am happy with the result today and the way my bike is performing. Now we prepare for the Marathon stage!”
On losing his way and his experience in the third stage, JRod said: I spent most of the stage today at the back of the pack in the dust. I developed a decent rhythm soon and passed a lot of guys but then I got lost and had to find my way back. I recovered from that to again end up spending almost an hour in finding a tricky waypoint. Many guys lost time around that waypoint too. I think it was a hard day but the important thing is that I made it back to the end with my bike. Tomorrow will be a new start of a new day.”
Things were similar in Sherco TVS camp, as Lorenzo Santolino moved up the order with his impressive 11th place finish in stage 3 even though he earned a 5min 30sec penalty, while his teammates were behind him. In general standings, Lorenzo is in 13th place, behind Oriol Mena. Aravind KP incurred a six-minute penalty, finished the stage in 81st position and in overall standings, sits in 61st position. Michael Metge gave one of his best performances and managed to finish the stage in the top 15 (P13), taking his overall ranking to 28th position, despite a 7-minute penalty. Adrien Metge lost some time in navigation and had a difficult stage but was still able to finish in 18th place and is now 15th in the overall rankings. Adrien is confident that he will do much better in the future stages and the team says that they have full confidence in him for the rest of the race.
Sherco TVS Team manager David Casteu said: “I am happy with our team’s performance in stage 3 despite many challenges. The riders are very motivated and completely focused to improve their performance. The mechanics are doing an amazing job and are supporting their riders to the fullest. The camaraderie is great and we will keep this spirit going till the finish line.”
Tomorrow, the rally moves to the Marathon stage, where no assistance is allowed overnight and the competitors are left to their own devices and faculties to manage their bikes and themselves, making it a tricky day for all of them. The riders will leave for Moquegua in stage 4, covering a total distance of 511km, including the 352km special stage. Watch this space for more.
Here are the overall results after stage 3:
|1||Pablo Quintanilla||Husqvarna Factory Racing||08h 34m 28s|
|2.||Kevin Benavides||Honda Factory Racing||+11m 23s|
|3.||Sam Sunderland||KTM Factory Racing||+12m 12s
|12.||Oriol Mena||Hero Motosports Team Rally||+36m 03s
|13||Lorenzo Santolino||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||+ 00H 40′ 46”|
|15.||Adrien Metge||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||+ 00H 58′ 35”|
|28||Michael Metge||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||+ 02H 04′ 53”|
|31||Joaquim Rodrigues||Hero Motosports Team Rally||+02h 12m 03s
|42.||C S Santosh||Hero Motosports Team Rally||+02h 44m 20s
|61||Aravind KP||Sherco TVS Rally Factory||+ 03H 52′ 56”|