Price retains top five overall placing with ninth on third day.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has promoted himself to P1 in the overall classification of the 2019 Dakar Rally, while Yamalube Yamaha Rally’s Xavier de Soultrait earned top honours on day three of the event.
De Soultrait navigated his way through the difficult 331-kilometre timed special with a time of 4h7m42s, narrowly edging out newly-appointed leader Quintanilla by a slender 15 seconds.
Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team) was third in the stage, followed by Adrien van Beveren (Yamalube Yamaha Rally) and Sam Sunderland (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), as Australian Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) wound up in ninth.
The running order now sees Quintanilla lead with an 11m23s advantage ahead of Benavides, Sunderland, van Beveren and Price, with reigning champion Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) demoted to eighth after a challenging outing.
Monster Energy Honda Team rider Joan Barreda was forced out for the second year in a row, leading into stage three but exiting altogether following a crash at the 143-kilometre mark. He was eventually evacuated by helicopter to safety.
Aussie contender Rodney Faggotter (Yamalube Yamaha Racing) was also forced to exit the rally when he ran into technical issues during the stage, while compatriot Ben Young (KTM) made significant gains, finishing 59th on the day, bumping him to 84th in the classification. Fellow Australian James Ferguson (KTM) was 106th fastest, placing him 107th overall.
Stage four of the 2019 Dakar Rally marks the first half of the marathon stage. Riders will leave Arequipa and head for the temporary bivouac in Moquegua where they will receive no outside assistance from their teams. The 511-kilometre stage includes a gruelling 405-kilometre timed special – the longest of the rally.