After an early start the competitors tackled the third and longest stage of the rally: 327,22 km of dunes and technical tracks that tested both riders and machines.
In the first part they rode with CAP Erg Ouzina, passing through the mythical Erg Chebbi and the Erg Snagui. In the second part of the stage, the terrain changed completely and the most technical riders could show their riding skills on hard paths.
Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha) claimed today’s stage in front of Sam Sunderland (Honda) + 3’59” and the Gas Gas riders Gerard Farres and Jordi Viladoms at 08’:06”. Olivier Pain. Viladoms, Farres, Sunderland and Botturi were riding all together and it was a great pity for the Italian to stop because of a problem on his bike.
The first part in the dunes was really demanding but all the riders enjoyed the landscape very much.
With today’s result, Sam Sunderland is leading the provisional overall classification.
Tomorrow is the marathon stage and after 206km they will reach the tented camp “La belle Etoile” near Merzouga. The assistance will not be allowed to work on the bike.
Frans Verhoeven (NED) Yamaha: “Yesterday I was a bit disappointed because I finished 8th and I could have done better but I couldn’t take the rhythm. I spent a lot of time to prepare the road book for today and it paid well because I didn’t get lost, while many guys did and I got all the waypoints till the end. I wasn’t pushing too much all the time but I was keeping the pace quiet high and I passed some guys that were in front of me. The last part in the dunes was demanding as there was less visibility but in the end I knew I won the stage also with some good gap. It was another difficult day for the navigation but the landscape was really nice”.
Sam Sunderland (UK) Honda: “Another day full of adventure and difficult navigation. I was doing really well in the dunes, I was pushing and gaining time but then there was a recalibration in the road book that didn’t match with my road book, I made a mistake and I lost time. Despite that, I could pass some guys and I opened the last part of the stage. Overall I’m really happy. It was another day with the new bike, the handling is unbelievable. We are heading in the right direction for Dakar”.
Gerard Farres (SP) GAS GAS: “It was another stage with difficult navigation and a very good test for the bikes and the riders. I rode with Jordi (Viladoms), Botturi and Sunderland. The dunes in Merzouga were demanding, the visibility was poor and I crashed but fortunately without any damages. I’m very happy with the bike and this rally helps us a lot to prepare for Dakar”.
Day 3 Provisional Classification Bike
1 VERHOEVEN FRANS 3:55:36
2 SUNDERLAND SAM 3:59:00
3 FARRES GUELL Gerard 4:03:42
4 VILADOMS Jordi 4:03:42
5 PAIN OLIVIER 4:06:04
6 KNUIMAN HENK 4:10:32
7 RODRIGUES Helder 4:11:22
8 GIMENO Antonio 4:11:45
9 BRUCY Arnold 4:20:37
10 MANCINI ANDREA 4:23:25
11 BIANCHI PRATA Pedro 4:27:17
12 GUASCH MARC 4:32:21
13 ZACCHETTI Cesare 4:33:24
14 BUSQUETS ALEX 4:34:26
15 CARDONA Nicolas 4:38:29
16 UDRY Damien 5:01:42
17 LLOYD OLIVER 5:11:01
18 GANDINI Marco 5:14:11
19 CHARLIAT Francois 5:14:16
20 PELLONI Stefano 5:15:16
DAY 3 – Prov. Classification SSV
212 BUSQUETS J – ALBERTO TOME C
211 ROUSTAN G – PERNOT D
201 ABEL E – MONTAGNE C
209 CULUS E – BONNEAUDEAU N
204 LAVERDANT – RAFART