Stage 3 of the 2019 Dakar Rally turned out to be its most challenging yet with the riders facing several challenges in the dunes of Peru. The third stage saw the riders travel from Marcona to Arequipa over a total distance of 799 km, of which 342 km was the special section. The route took a lot of teams by surprise with what it had to offer with 75 per cent of the stage was sand and was a mix of dunes, rocks, mountains and fesh-fesh along with morning fog, which ensured navigation issues for participants across all categories. Hero MotoSports' Oriol Mena was the star of Stage 3 finishing a very impressive 8th at the end of the stage, and 12th overall His teammates though weren't as lucky with both Joaquim Rodrigues and CS Santosh losing rank significantly.
Oriol Mena finished the stage +11min15s off the race leader, showing a highly impressive pace and navigation skills along the way. Oriol said, “Today was a really tough stage, the kind that we know Dakar for. Conditions were difficult with 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 the other hand, JRod lost significant time at the beginning of the stage after losing his way at a waypoint, while setting back CS Santosh were an exhaustive number of crashes. While the bikes performed well over the issues yesterday, the riders certainly had a tough time keeping up with the road book. Both riders completed the stage with Joaquim finishing 46th finishing +1hour27min55s behind the stage leader, whereas Santosh dropped to 64th at the end of Stage 3. JRod stands at 31st place and Santosh is in 42nd place overall.
Speaking at the end of a gruelling day, 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 the 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. ”
Joaquim Rodrigues added, “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.”
For the Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team, it was a day of overcoming major challenges and finish strongly. The team's best performer in Stage 3 was Michael Metge who climbed as high as 5th in the rankings in the middle of the stage and managed to come 15th at the finish line. The rider now sits in 28th place overall. Teammate Lorenzo Santolino too had a positive outing and finished the day in 10th place, moving up the order to stand at 13th in the overall rankings.
Riser Adrien Metge though had navigation trouble that lost him precious time but saw the rider finish 15th in the overall standings. Lastly, India's Aravind KP maintained his pace through the day and held onto the 61st position, showing growth in his performance.
Speaking on the team's performance at the end of Stage 3, 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.”
For Stage 4, the riders will now move from Arequipa to Moquegua for a total distance of 511 km including 352 km of the special stage. Stage 4 is the marathon stage at Dakar which means no assistance will be allowed overnight to the participants from the teams. The riders need to manage their own machines over the stage.