Peterhansel wins Dakar third stage, Al Attiyah grabs overall lead

Sajith B Warrier

Arequipa (Peru), January 10: Qatar's Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah grabbed the overall lead in the Dakar Rally as 13-time winner Stephane Peterhansel won the third stage.

Peterhansel, behind the wheel of a Mini, ended the 798km run to Arequipa with a 3min 26sec lead over two-time champion Al Attiyah in a Toyota and 11min 47sec in front of Mini team-mate Jakub Przygonski.

The second place finish helped Al Attiyah seize the overall lead from Toyota's Giniel de Villiers, and he now has a 6min 48sec edge over Saudi Arabia's Yazeed Al Rajhi in a Mini.

Great stage

"It was a great stage for us. We only had a small puncture, which only cost us two minutes," said Al Attiyah.

"It's a good day, we have reason to be happy. From what I've heard, there's going to be lots of fesh-fesh tomorrow, we'll have to keep our guard up in the marathon stage. After that, we'll keep attacking," added Al Attiyah, who has Frenchman Mathieu Baumel as his navigator.

75th career stage win

Peterhansel is third overall, 7min 03sec off the lead, after claiming his 75th career stage win on the race.

"It was a nice stage, with tough dunes and tricky navigation: hard-to-find waypoints in the valleys. It was a quintessentially Peruvian stage and the sign of things to come in the next few days," said Peterhansel.

Fog-hit setback

Meanwhile, Sebastien Loeb's dream of adding victory in the gruelling endurance race to his nine world rally titles suffered a fog-hit setback.

Loeb, driving a private Peugeot and who won the second stage, was 42 minutes behind Peterhansel after a difficult day in which he lost his way in the fog and is eighth overall.

Nightmare for Sainz

Defending champion Carlos Sainz, like Loeb a former world rally champion, suffered a nightmare third stage when the front suspension on his Mini broke in the early stages of the run.

The Spaniard was held up for over three hours as a result, sending him down the standings.

Thursday's fourth stage will cover 511km (351km timed) from Arequipa to Tacna in the south of Peru.

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