Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) of X-raid MINI JCW Team races during stage 03 of Rally Dakar 2019 from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, Peru on January 09, 2019

Defending champion Carlos Sainz of X-Raid Mini JCW Team suffered a blow as a navigational error led the team into a dune hole that resulted in significant suspension damage only 38km into the stage. The Spaniard’s hopes were diminished in reclaiming the title, after losing almost 5 hours in repairs to the left suspension.

Stephane Peterhansel commanded the stage win for X-Raid Mini JCW Team, reaching Arequipa with a time of 03h54”32”, beating Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by 3’26’ as Jakub Przygonski Orlen X-Raid Team nabbed third. Peterhansel is in third place overall, 7’03″ behind race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Thirteen-time Dakar champion, Peterhansel revealed: ”It was a nice stage, with tough dunes and tricky navigation: hard-to-find waypoints in the valleys. It was a quintessentially Peruvian stage and the sign of things to come in the next few days.”

Nasser Al-Attiyah fought back to take the overall lead from teammate Giniel De Villiers as the pair prepare to take on tomorrows marathon stage.

Poland’s Jakub Przygońsk of Orlen X-Raid Team had a solid finish in third at the end of the third stage in Arequipa, fifth overall, and sitting less than 15 minutes behind the leaders.

Nine-time World Rally champion and privateer entrant Sébastian Loeb, proved just how crucial errors can be, after nabbing the second stage win yesterday, Loeb made a costly navigational error during the foggy conditions, conceding 42’55’ to Stéphane Peterhansel, starting the marathon stage in eighth overall.

Loeb reveals: ”It was very foggy, but the problem was getting lost. We couldn’t find our way back, so we went around in circles… and lost half an hour doing this. We lost big time, so we’ll start from far back tomorrow.”

France’s Cyril Despres of X-Raid Mini JCW Team also suffered navigational errors, slipping back to 6th but remaining in the Top 10.

On Thursday the marathon stage 4 begins from Arequipa to Tacna with 259km of roads followed by 405km of desrt racing.