Dakar 2022, Stage 3: Rodrigues wins, Sunderland still leads

Hero MotoSports rider Joaquim Rodrigues scored his first-ever Dakar Rally stage victory on Tuesday, while GasGas man Sam Sunderland held on to the overall lead.

It was Daniel Sanders who led the majority of the rain-shortened 255km Stage 3 near Al Qaisumah, recovering from a difficult outing on Monday that had dropped him from first to third in the general classification.

The GasGas rider pulled out a lead of just over a minute over the chasing pack led by Rodrigues at the first waypoint and was able to hold on to that advantage until the penultimate checkpoint. 

However, the Australian dropped nearly four minutes to the frontrunners in the final 35km stretch until the finishing line, allowing Rodrigues to come through and clinch the stage win.

It marked the maiden victory in a stage for the Portuguese rider in five Dakar starts - as well as the first for Indian manufacturer Hero.

Two-time Dakar champion Toby Price enjoyed his best stage finish so far in 2022, ending up 1m03s behind Rodrigues in second position on the factory KTM.

This year’s star rookie Mason Klein put on another impressive performance on the BAS KTM, the 20-year-old finishing just 1m14s off the pace in third and one position ahead of the top Husqvarna bike of Skyler Howes.

Sanders was eventually classified fifth, 2m55s shy of Rodrigues’ time, but he did beat the top Yamaha of Andrew Short as well as the leading Honda entry of 2020 champion Ricky Brabec.

Kevin Benavides (KTM) and Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha) were eighth and ninth respectively, while 2018 winner Matthias Walkner competed the top 10 for KTM.

After winning Monday’s Stage 2 to bring himself back into overall contention, Honda’s Joan Barreda slipped back down the order with the 24th fastest-time, losing over 10 minutes to the leaders.

His GasGas rival Sunderland fared marginally better, losing 7m30s en route to 17th place, but he continues to remain atop the overall leaderboard by just four seconds from Yamaha’s van Beveren.

Walkner is now third in the general classification, just 1m30s behind his former KTM teammate Sunderland, with Sanders slipping to fifth in the ranking behind Howes.

Sherco’s top runner Lorenzo Santolino holds sixth despite a relatively mediocre run to 20th in Stage 3, leading the top Honda of Pablo Quintanilla and the KTMs of Benavides and Stefan Svitko.

Despite Rodrigues’ victory, it is his teammate Aaron Mare who is Hero’s highest-placed rider in the standings, currently holding on to 10th place from Yamaha’s Ross Branch.

Petrucci returns

Following his retirement on Monday, MotoGP race winner Danilo Petrucci was able to return to Stage 3 as part of a new rule introduced to the Dakar Rally this year.

Riding in the colours of Tech 3 KTM, the Italian rider set the 22nd quickest time of the day, beating the likes of Barreda (24th) and Quintanilla (26th).

Overall standings after Stage 3:

Pos. # Name Make Time Gap Penalty
1 3 Sam Sunderland GasGas 11:13:40   00:00:00
2 42 Adrien van Beveren Yamaha 11:13:44 +00:00:04 00:00:00
3 52 Matthias Walkner KTM 11:15:10 +00:01:30 00:00:00
4 5 Skyler Howes Husqvarna 11:17:35 +00:03:55 00:00:00
5 4 Daniel Sanders GasGas 11:22:34 +00:08:54 00:10:00
6 15 Lorenzo Santolino Sherco 11:25:27 +00:11:47 00:00:00
7 7 Pablo Quintanilla Honda 11:30:31 +00:16:51 00:00:00
8 1 Kevin Benavides KTM 11:31:25 +00:17:45 00:00:00
9 142 Stefan Svitkko Slovnaft KTM 11:31:34 +00:17:54 00:00:00
10 6 Aaron Mare Hero 11:32:21 +00:18:41 00:00:00
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