Toby Price bounced back after a rough stage the day previous, Ricky Brabec lost 21 minutes in Stage 3, and Skyler Howes, an American privateer, took the overall lead after three days racing the Dakar Rally.
Price won by completing the stage in three hours, 33 minutes, a little more than one minute ahead of stage runner-up Kevin Benavides.
“So far, it’s been up and down,” Price, a two-time Dakar Rally winner, said after his second stage victory of 2021. “It’s quite frustrating to be in front one day and then at the back the next. The difficulty of the navigation means it’s hard to open the road.
“I’m going to have to do it tomorrow, but I hope there’ll be a bit of respite and that it will be a day that’s less complicated on the navigational front. The result doesn’t mean much, because there are ups and downs. … The bike’s working well, I didn’t fall and I didn’t have any fuel problems like yesterday. Every day is going to count right up until the last one, but so far there have been no major problems.”
Howes, who finished fourth Tuesday, has been a story of consistency and avoiding mistakes in taking the lead through three of 12 stages.
He is in first by 33 seconds over Benavides. Price is fourth, nearly two minutes behind the leader.
“Overall P-1,” Howes wrote in an Instagram post. “Found the flow early on in the dunes and when things opened up I felt right at home. The sandy tracks through the canyons and the rocky passes were really fun and I was just having a good time! Caught up to a handful of guys in front of me and had an all out battle to the finish!
“Honestly, I’m just having a lot of fun and I’m feeling comfortable on the bike. I’ll take every day as it comes and tackle each challenge as best as I can. After all, just a dude from Utah riding a dirt bike in Saudi Arabia, gotta have fun with it!”
STAGE 3 HIGHLIGHTS: 6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Being first on course has not been kind so far in a competition where stage finishing positions set the starting position for the next day.
After winning Stage 1, Price experienced trouble Monday while blazing the trail. After finishing second Monday, Brabec, last year’s winner, dropped Tuesday from second to 13th overall, 12 minutes back, after finishing 25th in Stage 3.
He agreed about the difficulty of being up front after rolling out of the bivouc second.
“Another fast day up front with the boys,” Brabec posted on Instagram after finishing the stage 21 minutes, 39 seconds behind Price. “This week has been one for the books, a wild one so far with the rubber band effect going on between all competitors.”
Stage 2 winner Joan Barreda lost time early and finished 30th in Stage 3. He is ranked eighth overall, 9 minutes behind Howes.
In other divisions Tuesday:
Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah made it two stage victories in a row in the 2021 Dakar Rally, winning Stage 3 by a margin of a little more than 2 minutes over teammate Henk Lategan.
“I’m quite happy,” Al-Attiyah said. “Today we really pushed a lot, and Matthieu (Baumel) did the navigation well. Everything is working very well like we need it to. I’m really quite happy with the pace, because to open and to win the stage is good, you know?
“I think there was one point where it was very, very difficult navigation, and I think most of the drivers got lost there.”
Sebastien Loeb continued his rebound from a dismal first stage. He has finished sixth in consecutive stages and advanced one spot for sixth overall. He still has nearly 46 minutes to make up on overall leader Stephane Peterhansel, who hold a 5-minute advantage over Al-Attiyah in the overall.
Side by sides/lightweight vehicles: Francisco Lopez Contardo narrowly beat American Austin Jones in Stage 3 by 23 seconds.
Seth Quintero was the highest-finishing lightweights driver, finishing 1 minute, 40 seconds behind Contardo.
Contardo holds a 6-minute advantage over Aron Domzala. Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, who won the opening stage to become the first woman to win a Dakar stage in 15 years, holds the lead in lightweights and is scored fourth overall in side-by-sides. Quintero is seventh overall and second among the lightweights.
Quads: Nicolas Cavigliasso won Stage 3 and shaved a minute off Giovanni Enrico’s overall lead. Enrico holds an advantage of just over 4 minutes on Alexandre Giroud and 6 minutes, 41 seconds over Cavigliasso.
Trucks: Siarhei Viazovich took his first stage victory Tuesday, reversing the table on Dmitry Sotnikov who won the first two stages. Sotnikov retains the overall lead over Viazovich by nearly 17 minutes.
STAGE 1 RESULTS: Carlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories
Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah 2 (Stage 2, Stage 3); Carlos Sainz (Stage 1),
Bikes: Toby Price 2 (Stage 1, Stage 3); Joan Barreda (Stage 2)
Side-by-sides: Austin Jones (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 3)
Lightweight vehicles: Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Seth Quintero (Stage 3)
Quads: Alexandre Giroud (Stage 1); Pablo Copetti (Stage 2); Nicolas Cavigliasso (Stage 3)
Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 2 (Stage 1, Stage 2); Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 3)