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Dakar Dakar

Dakar 2024, Stage 3: Sainz loses lead to Al-Rajhi as Moraes wins stage

Yazeed Al-Rajhi has taken the overall lead at the 2024 Dakar Rally from Carlos Sainz, as Lucas Moraes claimed victory on the third stage.

In an ultra-competitive Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya pass covering 438km, which saw the stage lead swap between multiple runners, a four-way victory fight developed between Toyota’s Moraes, Audi’s Mattias Ekstrom, Overdrive’s Al-Rajhi and defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah for Prodrive. 

With a little over 100km to go, and with mostly dirt tracks left to navigate, the advantage was with Moraes but Al-Attiyah chopped into his lead to take top spot at the 352km checkpoint by four seconds. 

The Qatari appeared locked on for his first stage win of this year’s event when his lead grew to 22s over Moraes at the penultimate reference point, but the Brazilian put in an impressive sprint to the stage end to take his first Dakar stage win by nine seconds ahead of Ekstrom.  

Al-Attiyah ended up fading to fourth on the stage, 1m33s off Moraes, as Al-Rajhi took third and with it the overall lead. This loss of pace was due to suffering extensive damage to his Prodrive entry, as he arrived in Al Salamiya on three tyres.

It resulted in the home favourite heading the overall standings by 29s from Sainz, who finished the stage in sixth place for Audi, having almost overturned his RS Q e-tron. 

"It wasn't a perfect stage for me, I lost about five minutes or so, and then I was going fast, but then I was behind Mattias [Ekstrom] and I almost overturned the car," Sainz explained after the stage. "We had a puncture and had to stop to reset the impact detector and a couple of things." 

Overdrive Toyota’s Al Rajhi’s near half-minute lead over Sainz has given the top two a cushion over the chasing pack, headed by Sainz’s Audi team-mate Ekstrom in third and 8m26s off the overall pace. 

#204 Team Audi Sport Audi RS Q e-tron E2: Carlos Sainz Sr., Lucas Cruz

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

#204 Team Audi Sport Audi RS Q e-tron E2: Carlos Sainz Sr., Lucas Cruz

Moraes has moved up to fourth for Toyota with his stage win, as defending Dakar Rally champion Al-Attiyah slotted into fifth with a 10m49s gap to bridge to the leader. 

Fresh from his historic 50th career Dakar Rally stage win, Stephane Peterhansel is sixth in the third Audi in front of Century’s Mathieu Serradori and Rebellion’s Romain Dumas. 

Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb, still searching for his first Dakar Rally triumph, is ninth for Prodrive and Mini’s Vaidotas Zala has rounded out the top 10.

Quotes Mario Galan

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