Storms continued to plague the 2016 Dakar Rally as competitors set off for Stage 3, which featured a shortened timed section owing to the adverse weather conditions. Riders faced tight mountain tracks this time out, which for some made navigation easier than the previous day. Team HRC’s Joan Barreda was one rider to take advantage of the less demanding navigation, throttling hard from the start and holding it pinned to the finish for the stage win. His Stage 3 run catapulted him from sixth overall at the beginning of the day to first in the general classification.
(Update: Barreda was later hit with a one-minute penalty, dropping him from the top-time in Stage 3 down to fifth. He lost the lead position in the overall standings as well, dropping to third. Dakar Rookie Kevin Benavides is now credited with the fastest time in Stage 3 followed by Team HRC’s Paulo Goncalves in second and KTM’s Antoine Meo in third. KTM’s Stefan Svitko takes over position as overall leader. The remainder of the article has been revised to reflect the changed finishing order.)
Joan Barreda took over the lead in the general standings after Stage 3 but was later hit with a one minute penalty.
The previous day’s winner, KTM’s Toby Price, opened the road and found obstacles such as animals and spectators on track a persistent difficulty. “I had a few close calls with some people,” Price explained in statement to Dakar personnel after the stage. “It was safer to back it down a little today and put ourselves in a good position for tomorrow and we’ll go from there. We’re only at day three now so there’s still a long way to go.”
Price’s deliberate approach was contrasted by others picking up the pace. In addition Benavides and Goncalves and Meo, Stefan Svitko placed grabbed fourth and moved to first overall despite getting hit with a one minute penalty for speeding in a controlled area the day before.
None could touch Barreda on track however, his downfall only coming after the penalty. The Honda rider jumped to the top of the day’s timesheet by CP1 and held there to CP2. He remained the leader to the finish.
“Today was a good day after yesterday when opening the track was more difficult,” Barreda explained. “But today I started in seventh position, so it was better – it was a good day. I just kept pushing and kept focused. It was an easy day without navigation. All the tracks were close. So it’s good, the important thing is to be there, always fighting with the first group and waiting for the most difficult stages.”
Stage 4 is likely to be one of the more difficult stages, as it’s the first half of the first marathon and takes competitors on a loop into the Andes Mountains, starting and finishing in San Salvador de Jujuy. Organizers state that a great portion of Stage 4 occurs above 11,000 feet and features alternating sandy and rocky terrain. That’s all before any additional difficulty as a result of the tumultuous weather, or wayward animal.
Overall positions remain extremely close as well with Svitko leading Benavides by just 34 seconds. The top 16 riders are within 10 minutes of Svitko at the end of Stage 3 and the top 30 riders are all within 20 minutes of the KTM ace.
On the American front, Team HRC’s Ricky Brabec was again the fastest man from the States, ending the stage in 14th position, 3:41 adrift of the leader. He drops back one position in the overall ranking to 22nd behind KTM’s Laia Sanz, one of only two women to compete in this year’s Dakar in the motorcycle category.
“Today was just like yesterday,” explained Brabec in a team press release. “It was really fast and hard to make up a lot of time, but easy to lose a lot of time again. Today was awesome; the roads were good, the spectators were good and the navigation wasn’t that tricky. I rode well and I’m happy with my finish. We’re all here and ready to go again tomorrow.”
2016 Dakar Rally Stage 3 Results
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG – 2:31:03
2. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) PRT – 2:31:29
3. Antoine Meo (KTM) FRA – 2:31:30
4. Stefan Svitko (KTM) SVK – 2:31:34
5. Joan Barreda (Honda) ESP – 2:31:37
6. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) FRA – 2:32:39
7. Gerard Farres Guell (KTM) ESP – 2:32:49
8. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) CHL – 2:32:55
9. Alain Duclos (Sherco TVS) FRA – 2:32:58
10. Matthias Walkner (KTM) AUT – 2:33.29
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 3
1. Stefan Svitko (KTM) SVK – 6:27:04
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG – 6:27:38
3. Joan Barreda (Honda) ESP – 6:27:50
4. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) PRT – 6:27:58
5. Alain Duclos (Sherco TVS) FRA – 6:28:00
6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) AUT – 6:28:37
7. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) CHL – 6:29:28
8. Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) PRT – 6:30:47
9. Toby Price (KTM) AUS – 6:31:53
10. Juan Pedrero Garcia (Sherco TVS) ESP – 6:33:23
- Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team L to R - Ruben Faria, Pela Renet and Pablo Quintanilla.
- Yamalube Yamaha Rally Team riders Alessandro Botturi and Helder Rodrigues.
- HRC Rally Team L to R - Ricky Brabec, Paolo Ceci, Michael Metge, Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves.