“Joan Barreda took control of the Dakar Rally bikes competition on Wednesday, dominating the day’s stage as overnight leader Toby Price slipped down the order.
“The two-part, 364km San Miguel de Tucuman to Jujuy stage provided the first real navigational challenge of the South American event after Tuesday’s more straightforward test, and it was one that caught out reigning champion Price.
“Opening the road after his win on Tuesday, the KTM rider dropped almost 19 minutes to Barreda at the first checkpoint, while his teammate Mathias Walkner – second on the road despite dropping to 11th overnight with a five-minute penalty – likewise suffered.
“Honda rider Barreda, starting ninth on the road, took advantage of his rivals’ struggles to establish a healthy lead of nine minutes over Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) at the end of the first timed section.
“It was then KTM’s third factory rider, Sam Sunderland, that emerged as the biggest threat to Barreda in the second part of the stage – but the Brit could only get within 13m29s of the Spaniard, who secured his 15th Dakar stage win and the lead of the standings.
“Sunderland moves up to second in the general classification, 11m20s down on Barreda, ahead of the second best of the works Honda riders, Paulo Goncalves, who is a further 3m22s back.
“Quintanilla, fourth on the stage behind an impressive Pela Renet (Husqvarna), is now in the same position overall, followed by Price, who has fallen over 17 minutes adrift of Barreda.
“Fourth overnight, Yamaha rider Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) has slipped down to 13th place, two positions behind Walkner.”
Quotes from Price:
“The first part of the road-book was definitely tricky and I think we all got a little bit out of whack there and a little bit lost. We had to climb our way back from there. All in all, we got through that part not so bad and then we led the last little bit. Down the end here to start the next part of the special, due to the liaison time, I had to sit at the end of the first portion for too long waiting for a sticker for the time card. I lost out on a bit of time there and I didn’t quite start my special on the second part straight away. Something needs to happen there, because we didn’t get enough time to get through that part of the liaison section. Just through the end there wasn’t too bad; nice, smooth and fast-paced. I made a little mistake their near the end. It looked like the bunting had all tapered off down the side to get into the river bed and you couldn’t quite catch the finish there. It made it a little bit difficult. I think the top three or four of us all did the same things, so… I don’t know, perhaps there was an issue there. Other than that, we’re here for another day and I can’t complain. We definitely lost a bit of time today; but there’s still a long way to go – we’re only three days in. Give it time and we’ll see how we go. We’re definitely going to work our way back. I won last year by almost forty minutes so surely we can try and do something there – it should be good. It’s the way it is – you’re never going to lead the thing from start to finish. You’re always going to have a bad day here and there, so we’ll just wait and see. Hopefully my bad day is over and done with now and the rest of the days will be good”.
Provisional standings after Stage 3
- BARREDA, Bort Joan (ESP)
- SUNDERLAND, Sam (GBR) +10:20
- GONÇALVES, Paulo (PRT) +13:42
- QUINTANILLA, Pablo (CHL) +14:56
- PRICE, Toby (AUS) +16:19
- VAN BEVEREN, Adrien (FRA) +22:00
- FARRES, Guell Gerard (ESP) +22:00
- RENET, Pierre Alexandre (FRA) +23:07
- BRABEC, Ricky (USA) +23:13
- SVITKO, Stefan (SVK) +25:54
16. FAGGOTTER, Rodney (AUS) +38:32
27. SMITH, Todd (AUS) +01hour:05m:41s
47. HART, Matthew (AUS) +01hour:55m:41s