The legendary Carlos Sainz won Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally.
Things are looking up for Audi and its electric pilgrimage to the Dakar Rally.
Following an epic qualifying, things went downhill fast. There are currently three Audis in the running, and all hope for an overall first place is gone. Unless Nasser Al-Attiyah and Sebastien Loeb somehow manage to navigate into a different country erroneously, the best Audi can hope for is a top 10 finish.
Stephane Peterhansel lost a quarter of his suspension, and both Carlos Sainz and Mattias Ekstrom got lost. This cost them a lot of time. After that disastrous stage, Ekstrom was in the best position, finishing 1 hour, 45 minutes, and 50 seconds behind the current leader.
The team had a much better Stage 2, finishing in third place behind Sebastien Loeb and Nasser Al-Attiyah. Carlos Sainz drove the electric Audi hard enough to finish just 5 minutes and 52 seconds behind a car that has been under development for more than a decade.
Peterhansel finished in fourth, just under eight minutes behind the leader. Ekstrom finished ninth, placing all three Audi buggies in the top ten for Stage 2.
But Stage 3 would be the moment all Audi fans have been waiting for. Carlos Sainz finished first, completing the stage in 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 51 seconds. Henk Lategan in a Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux was a mere 38 seconds behind. Peterhansel finished in second place, while Ekstrom took fifth.
There was just an eight-minute separation between the Sainz and the Orlando Terranova in 10th place.
This is a first for Audi and the Dakar. Team Audi Sport is now the first team to win a stage with an EV. Some thought it impossible, but there you go. We had high hopes for the team, and while they may not achieve an outright victory, they can undoubtedly celebrate the individual stage wins.
In the overall standings, Ekstrom is currently the highest-ranking Audi in 19th place. Carlos Sainz moved up to 26th place, while Peterhansel is second from last following the huge amount of time he lost in Stage 1B.