Yazeed Al Rajhi reminded himself of what he’d said ahead of the start of this year’s Dakar.
Emerging from the 271-mile section from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiya the local hero smiled as he stepped from his Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux.
“Dakar,” said the Saudi star, “cannot be won in a day.”
That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a small celebration as he moved into a 29-second lead and demoting Audi’s Carlos Sainz to second.
Two stories dominated day three and the event’s first marathon stage: Lucas Moraes and punctures on a day marked by some of the route’s rockiest roads.
The Brazilian made himself known to Dakar regulars with a stunning debut podium last season, but now he’s started winning stages aboard his Hilux. Today was his first to be first.
“That was unbelievable, to be honest,” he told DirtFish. “I never expected a stage win. I have to give it up to the team and to Armand [Monleon, co-driver] – the navigation was very hard today.”
Fastest across the stage (from Audi’s Mattias Ekström) by nine seconds, Moraes admitted a sensible approach had been the way forwards.
“We were trying to be really careful with the tires,” he said. “It’s hard: as a driver you know you can be faster, but at the same time it’s better to slow down and not lose two minutes changing the tires. It’s a good feeling with the car, it’s nice to drive.”
Sébastien Loeb was hardest hit in terms of deflations with the BRX Hunter star suffering three – and with only two spares, he was forced to repair the final one.
He slips from third to ninth. American Seth Quintero (Toyota) was another to hit tire trouble, with two flats aboard his Hilux. He dropped from fourth to 11th.
He explained: “We were following Carlos Sainz for 30 or 40 kilometres. He was on the far left and I was on the far right when he swerved on [seeing] a bike, the bike then swerved over on me. I avoided the bike, but hit a rock [and got the puncture]. It was all bad news.”
What is it like to follow the crews through a stage on the Dakar?
On day three of his Dakar Rally adventure, Colin Clark jumps in the media car to follow the competitors through today’s 733 km stage.
Click below to listen to Colin’s report as he heads out into the dunes and brings you a flavor of what it’s like to be stage-side on the Dakar.