Second stage win pushes Al-Attiyah

Andrew Hopkins

X-raid's Sails Capital Racing Team rebounded from Sunday's small setback to again set the fastest time in the third, albeit shortened, 550km varied gravel stage of the 2009 Dakar Rally across Patagonia between Puerto Madryn and Ingeniero Jacobacci on Monday.

Day one leaders, Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and Tina Thörner, started the stage in ninth position on the road in their BMW X3 CC and set the fastest time - their second in three days - to move up the leader board from fourth to second overall.

Volkswagen continues to hold its ground after the third leg of the Dakar Rally, with Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F) remaining at the top of the leader board. With some controlled driving, the Spanish-French duo was able to increase the lead it established yesterday in its Race Touareg by more than a minute to 3.40 minutes on the 694-kilometre leg westwards from Puerto Madryn to Jacobacci in Argentina. The third leg presented the participants with speedy stretches and with winding – and therefore also demanding – sections. With some rocky ground to cover, they had to reduce the risk of tyre blowouts in order not to forfeit valuable time.

Mitsubishi's Luc Alphand and Gilles Picard lost around 30 minutes before the first control because of a small fuel leak and fell back to tenth place. But the crews Stéphane Peterhansel-Jean-Paul Cottret and Nani Roma-Lucas Cruz are still driving strongly and battling to be among the race leaders after the third leg in Patagonia.