Dakar Rally, Stage 3: Skyler Howes takes lead as Price rebounds; Ricky Brabec struggles

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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

STAGE 2: Ricky Brabec jumps to second; Andrew Short withdraws

Stage Wins:

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)

Watch highlights from Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET today.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”