KTM continues to control the 2011 Dakar Rally, holding the top three spots after the 731 km of day three.
Cyril Despres (France) leads Marc Coma (Spain) and Ruben Faria (Portugal). The trio is in control, although the top 10 are within a 20-minute window, which is a pretty narrow margin in a rally like this one.
Coma won the third stage, closing him up to only 14 seconds behind Despres.
Winner of the day Coma said, "That was a really authentic Dakar day: the first part with lots of navigation, then more riding on the rest. I’m happy with where I am. I took advantage of a little navigation mistake by Cyril."
Despres replied, “Marc caught up with me very quickly. There were a lot of riders at the start of the special. I was very careful during the first 10 kilometres and then after 11 kilometres I got it completely wrong.
"I [lost] several precious minutes. In the end, I limited the damage, because I finished 20 seconds behind Marc. He must have gained 2 minutes 20 seconds on me. It’s not a huge amount of time, but I would’ve liked to have kept it for myself”
The day’s terrain put a premium on navigational skills than on the last two stages, several riders having problems. One who didn’t have problems was American Quinn Cody, who’s a very impressive 13th in his first Dakar, riding the only Honda in the top 20.
Today’s route for Stage 4 takes the competitors another 761 km, out of Argentina across the Andes at altitudes up to 4,800 metres. They’ll then enter the Atacama Desert, first on hard stony terrain, then on deep sand dunes.