The loop-shaped route setting out from the future megalopolis of Neom is a real gem. As it takes the competitors to the verge of the Jordanian border, the rally will include an exploration sequence of canyons and mountains on sandy terrain. On this special, the Dakar will climb it this year’s summit at 1,400 meters in altitude.
Reinaldo Varela, the winner of the SSV category in 2018, has not begun the Dakar as he would have hoped in Saudi Arabia. However, the Brazilian has enjoyed an excellent start to the special on Stage 3 and boasted a lead of 13 seconds over Gerrard Farrés. Chaleco López was also not far off the lead, trailing by just 29 seconds.
Casey Currie has regained the time lost to Reinaldo Varela and built a lead of two minutes after 250 km. Conrad Rautenbach and Austin Jones are also both back in contact with the leaders before the final sprint. Blade Hildebrand, a Dakar Experience driver, also lead the group during part of the day.
Cyril Despres and Mike Hornsat for quite a while at 273 km of the special. Their buggy’s engine had issues and they are now forced to wait for their assistance team to arrive. They managed to reach the second neutralized zone thanks to a tow from the team’s assistance truck.
However, the two men do not know whether they will be able to continue their route on the Dakar. “It was a lovely day, Mike was enjoying it and we started to maintain a good pace,” Despres said. “But since yesterday the engine temperature has been too high and after 274 kilometers it just stopped.”
Finishing third of the day Casey Currie pushed forward and ontop the overall lead for the SSV class. His lead is only 15 seconds faster than Francisco “Chaleco” López and things could still change as they haven’t hit the halfway mark yet. Do you think Currie can hold off the rest of the field and bring home the win for the Americans? Tell us in the comments below!