Wednesday’s stage 3 took riders for a 798 km stretch from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona, including a timed special of 331 km.
Mena, who has been consistently running at the brink of the top 10, set the eight fastest time of the stage, just 11min15s down on pacesetter Xavier de Soultrait.
That result allowed him to move up to 12th in the overall order, the highest position for any rider from the two Indian teams.
However, it was hardly a perfect day for the Hero team as homegrown rider CS Santosh was caught out by a poorly marked waypoint, falling inside a ravine and losing precious time to get back and running.
“Well at the top of the mountain there are all these clouds and the waypoint opened so I followed the waypoint and it was off piste,” Santosh described.
“And it went over a crest and the next thing you know it drops down into a ravine. And I saw some lines going there I followed the lines.
“The next thing I know is I just missed it by this much. I just the dropped the bike down and nobody is helping me pick it up. I’m asking the guys to help me push but nobody helped me.”
The time lost meant Santosh finished a measly 64th and dropped down to 42nd in the overall order. He had started the rally inside the top 20.
Joaquim Rodrigues (Hero) also had a difficult day with navigation troubles and holds the 31st place in the general classifications after three days of rallying.
#63 Sherco TVS: Lorenzo Santolino
Photo by: TVS Racing
Santolino continues to impress Sherco TVS
Over in the Sherco TVS camp, Lorenzo Santolino continued to put on an impressive show on his first Dakar outing.
The Spaniard was again the top rider for the team in 11th position, with the result elevating him to 13th in the overall standings, just behind Mena.
Metge brothers Michael and Adrien finished 13th and 18th respectively in stage 3 and occupy 28th and 15th position in the overall rankings respectively.
Michael had enjoyed a strong run so far, but a fuel outage in stage 2 led to him slipping down the order.
Finally, Aravind KP logged the 81st fastest time in stage 3 but still holds the 61st spot in the general classification.