16:49 | San Juan de Marcona (Ica region), Jan. 8.
The 2019 Dakar Rally underway in Peru
is testing the limits of drivers as they race across the Inca country.
Titleholder Matthias Walkner
, who set off third this morning, has collected the third stage victory on the Dakar of his career, allowing him to move up one place in the general standings.
He is now on the heels of the rally leader, Joan Barreda
, trailing the Spaniard by 1'31''.
"I don't know at the moment if it was such a good decision to push that much because I have to look at how big the gaps are. I don't think I caught up that much time. In the end, sure, it's good to have a stage win. But there are still more long days coming," he said.
"The cars were difficult to pass in some places. They were not dead fast; sometimes it was bad, so we had to overtake, but the most difficult was the fesh-fesh getting really loose. Sometimes with the bikes it was so deep that you can't miss some stones, so it was quite dangerous at times, but it was fun," he added.
The Argentinean has opened up a significant gap in the general standings.
The PH-Sport Team driver Sebastien Loeb
, who started in 13th position this morning, won the day's stage and climbs up to 5th in the general standings, 1'56'' behind the new leader Giniel de Villiers
"Yes, it was a good stage for me with no problems. We tried to take a good rhythm and to keep it. It wasn't easy to keep the same rhythm all the time but, finally, we did a good stage with no big mistakes, and we won the stage. It was no problem, the road position –it was a good one, to start a bit behind. It was a good choice. So, for the moment, everything is ok," Loeb stated.
Back on the Dakar after a 5-year absence, Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez
achieved a podium finish in the bike category in 2010 and 2013.
Now the Chilean rider has successfully accomplished his conversion to SxS with a victory on the second stage, his twelfth in total on the rally.
"It was a good and long day. It was very difficult 20 kilometers before the finish. The waypoint was difficult to find. My sensations on the second part of the stage were very good," Lopez expressed.
After an imperial performance on the first stage, Eduard Nikolaev
has repeated the feat today with his second consecutive stage win in 2019.
The titleholder was in total control on the sandy terrain behind the wheel of his Kamaz and beat Gerard de Rooy
The Dutchman is still in the reckoning in the general standings, however.