Al-Attiyah takes second Dakar stage win, Hirvonen out of contention
Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah picked up his second stage win of the 2018 Dakar Rally, as Mikko Hirvonen joined his fellow X-raid Mini buggy drivers in dropping out of contention
Hirvonen was the highest-profile entrant to hit trouble in the 184-mile timed special of the Pisco - San Juan de Marcona stage on day three of the event, as the Finn was forced to stop for repairs short of the halfway point and gave up over an hour and a half.
The time losses incurred by Hirvonen means the 2018 Dakar will yield no marquee result for X-raid's all-new two-wheel-drive challenger, after the two other Mini buggies - those of Bryce Menzies and Yazeed Al-Rajhi - suffered accidents on Sunday.
Adding to the team's misfortune was a crash for the returning Nani Roma, who looked set for a solid finish before rolling his four-wheel-drive Mini John Cooper Works Rally car at the very end of the stage.
He arrived at the finish line 26 minutes down on the leader but required subsequent medical attention.
With the fight for rally honours now almost certainly down to the Peugeot and Toyota camps, Al-Attiyah scored an emphatic stage win for the latter.
The Qatari had dropped from first to fifth overall on Sunday - he had to open the road and co-driver Matthieu Baumel was also unwell - but bounced back the day after, leading the way at every waypoint but the first.
He headed his nearest rival, Peugeot's Stephane Peterhansel, by four minutes at the finish line, and has moved up to third in the general classification.
Second on the stage allowed defending champion Peterhansel to vault into first overall, overhauling team-mate and erstwhile leader Cyril Despres, who finished almost eight minutes down on Al-Attiyah.
Slotting in between the pair in the stage results was the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi of Carlos Sainz, while the fourth Peugeot works driver - Sebastien Loeb - ended the run narrowly behind Despres.
Toyota's Giniel de Villiers was sixth on the stage and has slipped behind his Qatari team-mate Al-Attiyah, as well as Loeb, in the general classification.
He remains ahead of Sainz, who completes the top six with a 14m27s deficit to leader Peterhansel.
Stage three result
|1||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa||Toyota||3h09m08.s|
|2||Stephane Peterhansel||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||4m05.s|
|3||Carlos Sainz||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||6m07.s|
|4||Cyril Despres||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||7m43.s|
|5||Sebastien Loeb||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||8m34.s|
|6||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa||Toyota||10m11.s|
|7||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa||Toyota||18m07.s|
|8||Martin Prokop||MP Sports||Ford||18m56.s|
|9||Jakub Przygonski||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||22m42.s|
|10||Lucio Ezequiel Alvarez||Overdrive Toyota||Toyota||23m01.s|
Leading positions after stage three
|1||Stephane Peterhansel||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||6h34m58.s|
|2||Cyril Despres||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||3m11.s|
|3||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa||Toyota||7m43.s|
|4||Sebastien Loeb||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||10m11.s|
|5||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa||Toyota||11m23.s|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Team Peugeot Total||Peugeot||14m47.s|
|7||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa||Toyota||31m18.s|
|8||Orlando Terranova||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||35m19.s|
|9||Martin Prokop||MP Sports||Ford||38m56.s|
|10||Nani Roma||X-Raid Team||Mini/BMW||42m56.s|
Cyril Despres moves into 2018 Dakar Rally lead for Peugeot
Nani Roma sustains head and neck injuries in Dakar Rally crash