Johannesburg - South Africa's Giniel De Villiers (Toyota), winner of the 2009 Dakar Rally, is in third place on this year's event, just 1'40” behind leader Krzysztof Holowczyc in the overall standings.
Cyril Després, already a winner in San Juan on the Dakar Rally's last visit in 2010, won again on Tuesday, taking advantage of a major navigational error by Marc Coma to take the lead in the motorcycle general standings.
Nani Roma won his 15th stage on the Dakar and his third in the car category. His team-mate Krzysztof Holowczyc, who is starting to make a collection of second places, took control of the overall standings.
Endurance alone is not sufficient on the Dakar Rally without a little attention to detail. This point was proved by Després, who took command of the overall standings and won the day's stage by remaining calm and collected. In terms of performance, his battle with Coma for a long time seemed like a game of ping-pong: advantage to the Frenchman by 20 seconds at CP1, then to the Spaniard by 14 seconds after 117 km. The likelihood of a slender victory for one rider or the other seemed to grow as the stage went on.
However, leading on the road is never an easy task. At the junction between the routes dedicated to the bikes/quads and the cars/trucks, after 164 kilometres of racing, Coma made the wrong choice and followed the car/truck route for more than 4 kilometres. Despite his efforts to try and make up for this lost time, his wrong-slot cost him 13 minutes at the finishing line. On completion of his 27th special stage victory, Després now finds himself leading the rally with an advantage of 10'12” over his biggest rival.
The brave challengers to Coma and Després once again had to admit that there is a chasm separating them from the two men. In the end, Frans Verhoeven picked up second place on the day's special. The performance was encouraging for the new Sherco that he is riding, but the Dutchman still came in 8'37” behind Després, whilst Paulo Gonçalves took only 2 seconds more. More importantly, the lesson about being calm and collected, two essential qualities on the Dakar, was a tough one for two pretenders to the podium, who will be leaving the rally by the back door; or rather by his assistance truck for Jakub Przygonsky, whose engine blew after 68 km, and by the medical helicopter for Quinn Cody, who broke his collar bone following a spectacular fall after 173 km of the special stage.
It is just as vital to be consistent and regular on four wheels, where even the smallest of mistakes can cost several precious minutes. Stéphane Peterhansel made significant progress at a decent pace in the special, enabling him to put in the best intermediate times at the 41 km and 163 km points. However, in the last 50 kilometres, the main favourite in the car category was halted twice by punctures. In the end, he lost more than 6 minutes to Nani Roma, who gave the X-Raid team a second victory for a Mini on the Dakar, after the one achieved by Novitzkiy on the first day. The German team can be happy with its day's work, since Krzysztof Holowczyc who was second, took the lead in the general standings.
There is still plenty of competition for the lead in the car category. Robby Gordon, with the day's fifth best time on the special, holds on to second place in the general standings, only 54” behind the Polish driver. The potential of the Toyota Hilux is also starting to be apparent by progress in the standings. In his own discrete and efficient way, South Africa's Giniel De Villiers completes the provisional podium, made up of three different teams. The winner of the 2009 Dakar is only 1'40” behind Holowczyc in the overall standings.
2012 Dakar Rally Standings after Stage 3
Cars - Stage 3 Result
1. Nani Roma (ESP) Mini 2hr 26min 51sec,
2. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini at 1min 09sec,
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer 1:29,
4. Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota 1:33,
5. Robby Gordon (USA) Hummer 2:08,
6. Orlando Terranova (ARG) Toyota 6:08,
7. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Mini 6:23,
8. Erik Van Loone (NED) Mitsubishi 7:03,
9. Leonid Novitzkiy (RUS) Mini 7:18,
10. Erik Wevers (NED) Mitsubishi 7.35.
Cars - Overall
1. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini 5hr 51min 06sec,
2. Robby Gordon (USA) Hummer at 54sec,
3. Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota 1min 40sec,
4. Nani Roma (ESP) Mini 1:50,
5. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) Mini 2:41,
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Hummer 6:34,
7. Leonid Novitzkiy (RUS) Mini 14:53,
8. Lucio Alvarez (ARG) Toyota 20:39,
9. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR) Mini 14:41,
10. Erik Wevers (NED) Mitsubishi 26:06.
Bikes - Stage 3 Results
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 3hr 48min 38sec,
2. Frans Verhoeven (NED) Sherko at 8min 37sec,
3. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna 8:39,
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha 10:03,
5. Alain Duclos (FRA) Aprilia 11:12,
6. David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha 11:42,
7. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 13:04,
8. Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia 17:59,
9. Gerard Farres (ESP) KTM 18:19,
10. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM 18:32.
44. Darryl Curtis (RSA) KTM 35:13
106. Iain Stevenson (RSA) KTM 01:58:30
137. Neil Scott-Williams (RSA) KTM 03:04:22
138. Greg Raaf (RSA) KTM 03:08:23
Bikes - Overall
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM 7hr 31min 42sec,
2. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM at 10min 12sec,
3. David Casteu (FRA) Yamaha 17:16,
4. Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia 17:37,
5. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha 19:49,
6. Alain Duclos (FRA) Aprilia 20:47,
7. Paulo Goncalvez (POR) Husqvarna 26:00,
8. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM 26:18,
9. Javier Pizzolito (ARG) Honda 27:21,
10. Jordi Viladoms (ESP) KTM 28:26.
49. Darryl Curtis (RSA) KTM 02:03:26
116. Iain Stevenson (RSA) KTM 04:56:56
126. Greg Raaf (RSA) KTM 05:27:34
137. Neil Scott-Williams (RSA) KTM 06:20:29