Dakar 2018, Stage 3: Al-Attiyah wins, drama for Hirvonen

Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah picked up his second stage win of the 2018 Dakar Rally, as Mikko Hirvonen joined his fellow X-raid Mini buggy drivers in dropping out of contention.

Dakar 2018, Stage 3: Al-Attiyah wins, drama for Hirvonen
#301 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Matthieu Baumel
#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#303 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Carlos Sainz, Lucas Cruz
#303 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Carlos Sainz, Lucas Cruz
#305 X-Raid Team Mini: Mikko Hirvonen, Andreas Schulz
#305 X-Raid Team Mini: Mikko Hirvonen, Andreas Schulz
#300 Peugeot Sport Peugeot 3008 DKR: Stéphane Peterhansel, Jean-Paul Cottret
#501 Team De Rooy Iveco: Federico Villagra, Ricardo Torlaschi, Adrian Yacopini
#501 Team De Rooy Iveco: Federico Villagra, Ricardo Torlaschi, Adrian Yacopini
#500 Team Kamaz Master: Eduard Nikolaev, Evgeny Yakovlev, Vladimir Rybakov

Hirvonen was the highest-profile entrant to hit trouble in the 296km timed special of the Pisco–San Juan de Marcona stage, as the Finn was forced to stop for repairs short of halfway into the run and gave up over an hour and a half.

The time losses incurred by Hirvonen mean the 2018 Dakar will yield no marquee result for X-raid's all-new two-wheel-drive challenger, after the two other Mini buggies – those of Bryce Menzies and Yazeed Al-Rajhi – suffered accidents on Sunday.

Adding to the team's misfortune was a crash for the returning Nani Roma, who looked set for a solid finish before rolling his four-wheel-drive Mini John Cooper Works Rally car at the very end of the stage.

He arrived at the finish 26 minutes down on the leader but required subsequent medical attention, and is now out of the event.

With the fight for rally honours now almost certainly down to the Peugeot and Toyota camps, Al-Attiyah scored an emphatic stage win for the latter.

The Qatari had dropped from first to fifth overall on Sunday, having to open the road and with co-driver Mathieu Baumel unwell, but bounced back the day after, leading the way at every waypoint but the first.

He headed nearest rival Stephane Peterhansel of Peugeot by four minutes at the finish line, and has moved up to third in the general classification.

Second place on the stage has allowed defending champion Peterhansel to vault into first overall, overhauling teammate and erstwhile leader Cyril Despres, who finished almost eight minutes down on Al-Attiyah.

Slotting in between the pair in the stage results was the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi of Carlos Sainz, while the fourth Peugeot works driver – Sebastien Loeb – ended the run narrowly behind Despres.

Toyota's Giniel de Villiers was sixth on the stage and has slipped behind his Qatari teammate Al-Attiyah, as well as Loeb, in the general classification.

He remains ahead of Sainz, who makes up the overall top six with a 14m27s deficit to rally leader Peterhansel.

Watch video highlights of Day 3...

Villagra scores maiden stage win

De Rooy Iveco driver Federico Villagra scored his first stage win in the Dakar Rally, as he and Kamaz's Eduard Nikolaev emerged as the frontrunners in the 2018 contest.

Villagra, who finished on the podium on his truck-class debut two years ago, overcame what was at one point a seven-minute deficit to Nikolaev to finish 35 seconds clear of the reigning champion.

Nikolaev remains at the head of the race, nine minutes ahead of Villagra, as several of their chief rivals - including Nikolaev's teammate Dmitry Sotnikov, Villagra's teammate Ton van Genugten and Tatra driver Ales Loprais - lost over an hour.

Standings after Stage 3 (Car class, top 10):

Pos. Driver / Co-driver Car Time/Gap
1

 Stephane Peterhansel

 Jean-Paul Cottret

Peugeot 6h34m58s
2

 Cyril Despres

 David Castera

Peugeot +3m11s
3

 Nasser Al-Attiyah

 Mathieu Baumel

Toyota +7m43s
4

 Sebastien Loeb

 Daniel Elena

Peugeot +10m11s
5

 Giniel de Villiers

 Dirk von Zitzewitz

Toyota +11m23s
6

 Carlos Sainz

 Lucas Cruz

Peugeot +14m47s
7

 Bernhard ten Brinke

 Michel Perin

Toyota +31m18s
8

 Orlando Terranova

 Bernardo Graue

Mini +35m19s
9

 Martin Prokop

 Jan Tomanek

Ford +38m56s
10

Nani Roma

Alex Haro

Mini +42m56s
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