Al-Attiyah Grabs Stage 3 of 2011 Dakar Rally

Carlos Sainz did not continue his winning streak in the 2011 Dakar Rally on Tuesday, but it was still a Volkswagen Touareg to reach San Salvador de Jujuy in first place at the end of Stage 3. This time it was Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah to grab a place on the winning scoreboard, clinching his 9th career stage win in the South American event.

The VW driver finished the 3rd stage of the Dakar Rally some 25 seconds ahead of Sainz, and more importantly, almost a minute ahead of X-Raid BMW's Stephane Peterhansel (who was 2nd in the overall classification before the start of the stage). And the time gaps could have been a lot bigger hadn't he experienced a sudden loss of power in the late stages of the Tuesday action.

I'm very disappointed. We had exactly the same problem as yesterday. We completely lost power after 200km. I don’t know why. That’s three days the same thing has happened,” admitted a frustrated Al-Attiyah after the stage.

I gained 1:30 on Carlos in the first part, but I lost my lead on the technical section where you must always use 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. We must fix the problem. I don’t care about our time or the special stage victory. Tomorrow there will be dunes and soft sand and that will be a problem,” he added.

Sainz, on the other hand, was happy with his performance on Tuesday, as he put some extra 34 seconds between him and Peterhansel in the overall classification. More than 4 minutes separate the two in the standings, although the Spaniard might now have to switch focus to his teammate Al-Attiyah for the Dakar battle.

I’m more or less happy with my day. We lost a minute and a half to Nasser by the end of the first section, but in the end we made up most of the time lost by pushing more on the last section where there was less navigation,” said the VW driver.

For the first time in the 2011 Dakar, X-Raid BMW put two of its drivers inside the Top 4, with Krzysztof Holowczyc setting the 4th fastest time of the day, some 5 and a half minutes late to stage winner Al-Attiyah. In the overall classification however, it's still Giniel de Villiers who sits in 4th place – more than 17 minutes behind leader Sainz – ahead of Holowczyc and Argentine Orlando Terranova.
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