DAKAR 2019: That’s all…

SS-3 | San Juan de Marcona – Arequipa | Date: 09.01.2019 | (GMT-5)
Special stage: 331 km | Total distance: 798 km | Liaison: 467 km

On Wednesday, 9 January, DAKAR 2019 participants caravan moved from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa; the special stage total distance was 798 kilometers (467 kilometers of liaisons and 331 competitive kilometers). The G-Energy team crew of Vladimir Vasilyev stopped at 65th km of competitive distance. For many hours the only available information was that the crew was fine and there were technical problems. 12 hours later, when the crew arrived at the bivouac, it became clear why the names of Vasilyev and Zhiltsov are absent on the fourth stage starting list.

Jean-Marc Fortin, Head of Overdrive Racing that serves the Toyota of the G-Energy Team crew, “The situation is this: at about 65th kilometer a noise appeared in the rear of the transmission. First, we checked the transfer case and gearbox, but then we determined that the problem was in the rear differential. We haven’t yet figured out why this could happen. The crew of Vasilyev and Zhiltsov didn’t go further along the special stage, but slid down the gravel onto the asphalt at the 70th kilometer. Unfortunately, the race is over for them, because the organizers don’t let them start further. It’s very frustrating. That’s all…”

Roman Kuzmin, Gazpromneft – Lubricants Deputy General Director for operational marketing, “We regret that our team retired and lost the opportunity to make an effective finish. However DAKAR is interesting in that even the strongest drivers, who have every chance to win, often stop the race for technical reasons quite suddenly. Despite the completion of the G-Energy Team performance, we continue our program of testing G-Energy products at DAKAR 2019. The Gazpromneft – Lubricants mobile laboratory moves along with a racing caravan, monitoring the condition of G-Energy oils poured into the MAZ-SPORTauto team vehicles after each stage”.

Last year this special stage was the retirement cause for the quadrocyclist Sergey Karjakin –he injured his arm here; this year 15 off-road vehicles did not reach the SS-3 finish line, including experienced and fast drivers such as Carlos Sainz, Vladimir Vasilyev, Robby Gordon, Marco Piana and others…

Arequipa is the second most populated city of Peru, located at the foot of the Misti volcano. And although the special stage started in a different place, the fans saw a real destructive force that passed through the list of participants and turned the classification upside down in each of the sports categories. By this time the third stage tracks are the most difficult ones that DAKAR has shown to its participants. Add to this exhausting road on the liaison – the way from the special stage finish to the bivouac in Arequipa is only 440 kilometers, but they are laid along a narrow and winding mountain road, where the average speed does not exceed 40 km/h. While in Moscow the working day begins, the crews only arrive at the bivouac to transfer the cars to the service teams and rest until the next stage start.

Today competitors have gone far north to the Duna Grande and Duna Argentina areas near San Juan de Marcona, then the route rose above 2,000 meters above sea level in the Cobrepampa region, where sections with difficult navigation began. Later in the third part of the special stage sections on fesh-fesh were added that alternated with fast stretches and driving along the Acari Dunes, where the skills of driving under alternating viscous surfaces conditions were tested. The third special stage start was early for motorcycles and quads – they went to the track at 5.40 am. There was a mixed start for cars and trucks, the first vehicles on the track appeared at 7.40 am. Stephane Peterhansel, “Mr. Dakar”, was the fastest; he covered 331 kilometers in sand and gravel in 3 hours and 54 minutes and won the 75th DAKAR stage.

The third special stage, as well as the second one, combined various surfaces, mainly sand and gravel. There were dangerous places on the route – riverbeds and trial junctions with large stones, the entrance and exit to this zone were marked in the road book with signs of increased danger. The neutralization zone began further. By the way, this year there was an innovation – automatic neutralization, when the process takes place through a GPS device without the direct participation of judges in it, geo-tagging displays the exit to the asphalt, and then automatic equipment should work. In other words, in the case of the neutralization introduction the device shows the crew that the stopwatch does not work and the crew travels in “road mode”; then the device “takes” the point from which the special stage continues, and the second part starts from the moment it is taken.

After the neutralization zone there was the exit to the ocean coast, where the area of soft but treacherous sand began – the vehicles could not pick up speed there, getting stuck in a loose surface. Those who were able to overcome these zones went to the final straight, and then they had to pass the exhausting liaison to the bivouac. The Cars classification has undergone many changes: Giniel de Villiers and Carlos Sainz had problems, and runner-up Nasser Al-Attiyah took the lead in the classification after three stages. Yesterday’s winner, Sebastien Loeb, finished more than 42 minutes behind.