Due to inclement weather, Stage 3 of the 2014 Dakar Rally (the first of a two-day marathon stage) was shortened with riders starting at the 80-mile mark within the original route. It proved to be another successful stage for Team HRC with Stage 1 winner and overall leader, Joan Barreda, claimed his second stage win of the rally. The Spaniard was followed by defending Dakar champion Cyril Despres of Factory Yamaha. Red Bull KTM Factory’s Marc Coma finished the day third-fastest.
Barreda has been strong throughout the opening stages and started the day in the lead pack alongside teammate Sam Sunderland and Coma’s teammate, Chaleco Lopez. Sunderland, winner of Stage 2, maintained his position out front through the opening checkpoint, but en route to CP2 he slipped well off course and lost significant ground to the leaders. Lopez, too, ran into difficulty early in the stage, falling outside the top-three in time near CP1.
Barreda, meanwhile, charged ahead reaching CP2 in first-place followed by Despres and Coma on the timesheet, who were able to recover the overall top-three positions they lost during a difficult Stage 2. The Honda rider was on fire though, stretching a lead over four minutes ahead of Despres and over six minutes ahead of Coma by the finish.
"This has been a really exceptional special, one like the Dakar has never seen before," said Barreda. "Not only for the altitude but also for the hills and the steep slopes that we have had to endure. It was like a trial. In second gear, revved up, then stopping for breath before taking off again. A real trial run where you just had to try and not make any mistakes and keep up the concentration. The navigation was really tough and at no time did I really stop to see if I was on the right path. We crossed a few rivers at the start. I caught up with Chaleco and then Sam, who I saw had taken the wrong route. From then on I did the rest of the special on my own. In the final few kilometers on the way down I was able to open the throttle until the end. It really was a difficult one for everyone."
Samsung Sherco Rally Factory’s Alain Duclos maintained a consistent pace to finish fourth in Stage 3, with KTM’s David Casteu earning his best result of the current Dakar in fifth. Lopez crossed the line in sixth with Gas Gas Factory JVO Team’s Gerard Farres Guell trailing in seventh. Oraving Slovnaft Team’s Stefan Svitko earned eighth in the stage with KTM’s Jakub Przygonski following in ninth and Despres’ teammate, Oliver Pain, taking 10th.
Navigation errors and wrecks claimed a number of riders, with Yamaha’s Frans Verhoeven suffering a crash that left him injured. KTM’s Ruben Faria was airlifted off course after an off and has since pulled out of this year's Dakar. Pain fell victim to navigation errors, as did KTM’s Jordi Viladoms, Ben Grabham and Team HRC’s Paulo Goncalves. Helder Rodrigues, Goncalves’ teammate, was hit with technical issues during the stage and was forced to stop to make repairs. Sunderland, too, fell far off pace, taking 6:15:09 to finish the stage.
"For a while I opened the way, but I had a fall on a very steep slope," explained Sunderland. "I lost a lot of time looking for the right route... at 4000 meters you get a bit disoriented. I found Gonçalves who was waiting for a helicopter to help Faria and we rode together. I fell several times as well as getting lost a lot. It’s an experience that we will have to learn from."
As a result of the troublesome stage, the overall rankings have shifted. Barreda continues to lead, now over 13 minutes ahead of Despres in second. Coma moves up to third followed by Duclos in fourth and Lopez in fifth. Casteu moved from 10th to sixth after Stage 3, while Viladoms moved from outside the top-10 to seventh.
Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 3: San Rafael to San Juan Results
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 3:47:03
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 3:51:44
3. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 3:53:59
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 3:57:54
5. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 3:58:20
6. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 4:03:39
7. Gerard Farres Guell, ESP (Gas-Gas) 4:03:53
8. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 4:06:09
9. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 4:07:15
10. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 4:07:37
Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Standings after Stage 3
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 9:56:44
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 10:09:48
3. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 10:10:40
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 10:13:22
5. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 10:15:23
6. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 10:19:00
7. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 10:31:17
8. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 10:33:17
9. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 10:34:38
10. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 10:36:53