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2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019

Author: Garry Morrow

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2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Following a well-calculated plan of attack, Xavier de Soultrait managed to make full use of his navigational skills during today's stage three of the Dakar. to take the win. Photo: Yamaha Racing
Delivering Yamaha their first stage win at the 2019 Dakar Rally, WR450F Rally powered Xavier de Soultrait has secured victory on stage three ahead of Pablo Quintanilla and Kevin Benavides.

At 331 kilometres in length, the timed special on day three was always going to be demanding. Starting at sea level and climbing to an altitude of over 2,000 metres, the stage tested the riders to their limits. Not only was the mixture of sand dunes and river beds physically tiring for competitors, tricky navigation and fog encountered on the highest sections of the stage also made the day mentally exhausting.


Following a well-calculated plan of attack, Xavier de Soultrait managed to make full use of his navigational skills during today's stage three of the Dakar. One of the first riders to find his way out of a tricky section in the first part of the stage, Xavier secured an emphatic stage win, his first, to move up to sixth in the event's provisional overall standings.

"It feels great to get this stage win in the bag. We had some challenging navigation today and I'm glad I made no mistake," de Soultrait said.

"For me this was the first proper rally stage of this race," the Yamalube Yamaha Rally team rider continued. "My plan going into this stage was to push and everything worked to my favour. I had a steady pace from start to finish and this helped me secure the win. I want to keep that same momentum throughout this first week of the race and then try to push harder whenever I get the chance to do so. Everything is going well for me so far, the bike is working great and I've had no crashes or mistakes."
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Pablo Quintanilla remains a strong contender, after finishing second on satge three the Chilean rider now holds an 11-minute lead at the top of the rally‰Ûªs overall standings. Photo: Marcin Kin
Pablo Quintanilla enjoyed a mistake free stage to cross the line with the second fastest time of the day. In a total time of more than four hours, Quintanilla was just 15 seconds slower than the stage winner. The Chilean rider now holds an 11-minute lead at the top of the rally‰Ûªs overall standings.

‰ÛÏThe real Dakar has just started and I‰Ûªm happy with where I‰Ûªm at right now," Quintanilla said. "Today we had a difficult stage. There was a lot of fog and in some parts you couldn‰Ûªt see far ahead. If you tried to push, you ended up missing the right tracks. I took my time there and rode really carefully. At one crucial point in the mountains I made the right decision and gained some time to my rivals. Navigation today was really tricky. I‰Ûªm having fun on my bike at the moment and I want to keep that same momentum going for the stages to come.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Birthday boy Kevin Benavides was third fastest, 2‰Ûª37 behind the stage winner. Photo: DPPI
On his birthday, Monster Energy Honda Team‰Ûªs Kevin Benavides, had been in the running for the stage victory, but had to settle for third place on the day, 2‰Ûª37 behind the stage winner. Benavides thus moves up the general rankings to second place to find himself rubbing shoulders with rally‰Ûªs top guns.

"Today was a very long day. I took advantage of having a good starting position to attack," Benavides said. "I felt comfortable with the bike, I made some navigational mistakes but in the end it was a good day. I‰Ûªm happy to climb some positions in the general and I‰Ûªm gaining confidence every stage. It is not bad to move up to the second position of the general on my birthday."
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
With fourth on stage Yamalube Yamaha Rally's Adrien Van Beveren managed to climb three spots in the provisional standings. Photo: Yamaha Racing.
Putting in another solid performance with fourth on stage, Yamalube Yamaha Rally's Adrien Van Beveren managed to climb three spots in the provisional standings. Currently sitting 13 minutes behind the provisional overall leader and in fourth position.

"I'm really satisfied with my performance today," the Frenchman said after the stage. "The stage was hard and there was a lot of fog in the first part of it. At one point, we got stuck in the fog with a few other riders, but I managed to find my way out of there pretty fast. Going into the second part of the stage in the dunes I was planning to push more to make some time, but a small issue with my clutch didn't let me ride the way I would have wanted to. The Dakar is a huge adventure and I'm glad I found my way out of this small issue and managed to post a decent time on the stage. All members of our team are giving their best and now our eyes are set on the marathon stage that starts tomorrow."
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Sam Sunderland completed the stage in fifth - one place up from his start position. Photo: Marcin Kin
The sixth rider to enter the timed special, Sam Sunderland had a solid start to the day, riding consistently and navigating well. After clearing the fog-covered mountain section the Brit was able to push on a little harder to complete the day in fifth - one place up from his start position.

"It was a really tricky stage, there was a lot of fog on the top of one of the mountains and that made riding and navigation tough," Sunderland said. "The only thing you could do was ease down on your pace a little and take a lot of care. At one point visibility was down to just a few metres. The road book had a lot of long notes that weren‰Ûªt as clear as they could have been and I think a few people struggled with that. As the day went on the riders grouped up and that is always a bit unpredictable because you don‰Ûªt know what the other guys are going to do. This is the Dakar though, we know it‰Ûªs difficult and we know we‰Ûªll have stages like this. It‰Ûªs still early days so we‰Ûªll see what tomorrow brings.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Monster Energy Honda's Paulo Gon̤alves had a tough day but managed sixth fastet.
It proved to be a tough physical test for Monster Energy Honda Team's Paulo Gon̤alves who held a swift pace to place a fine sixth on the day.

"Today was quite long stage, quite similar to yesterday‰Ûªs with lots of sand and many dunes," Gon̤alves explained. "I have felt very comfortable and with a lot more confidence. I was able to push with a good pace, but it was a pity about an error just before the refueling that made me lose more than 10 minutes, but the important thing is that I was able to finish. I have good feelings, tomorrow the marathon starts and I want to do well."
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Toby Price placed placed ninth at the end of the stage and is now almost nine minutes down on the leader Pablo Quintanilla. Photo: Marcin Kin
Again opting to prioritise bringing his bike home safely, rather than pushing and risking a mistake, Toby Price placed ninth at the end of the stage. Continuing to ride at a good and consistent pace, the Australian now sits fifth overall in the provisional overall standings, almost nine minutes down on the leader Pablo Quintanilla.

‰ÛÏI think it was more about survival than racing today," Price lamented. "It was a really tough stage but I got through it and I‰Ûªm feeling good and that‰Ûªs what matters. I got lost early on and that cost me some time to the front runners. Then at about the 130-kilometre mark there was a lot of fog in the mountains. The road book didn‰Ûªt have too many details and there were a few cliffs you could have dropped off. Luckily, I missed them. I‰Ûªm still trying to hang on and get to the end of each stage but overall things are good.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Rodney Faggotter had a small technical issue after the last waypoint which left the experienced Aussie with no chance of finishing the stage.
Defending champion Matthias Walkner lost 23 minutes after opening the stage finishing 15th on the day and now lies eighth overall, losing 23 minutes.

‰ÛÏThings were pretty hard for me today," Walkner lamented. "I opened the stage but only for the first 60 kilometres or so because I had a crash going over one of the drops. After that I couldn‰Ûªt find my rhythm so well again. It was really foggy and normally you would have to stop in those conditions. All you could do is drop your speed and take things really carefully. I picked up the pace later on in the stage but lost some time on the leaders. It‰Ûªs only day three though and we have many kilometres left to race.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 3: Xavier de Soultrait Gives Yamalube Yamaha Racing First Stage Win of 2019
Suffering intense pain on his recently injured leg, Franco Caimi was also forced to abandon the stage.
Dakar Rally 2019 - Race Schedule
Stage 1 | Jan 7 | Lima to Pisco | SS: 84km | Total: 331km
Stage 2 | Jan 8 | Pisco to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 342km | Total: 554km
Stage 3 | Jan 9 | San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa | SS: 331km | Total: 779km
Stage 4 | Jan 10 | Arequipa to Moquegua | SS: 352km | Total: 511km
Stage 5 | Jan 11 | Moquegua to Arequipa | SS: 345km | Total: 776km
Rest Day | Jan 12 | Arequipa
Stage 6 | Jan 13 | Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 317km | Total: 839km
Stage 7 | Jan 14 | San Juan de Marcona to San Juan de Marcona | SS: 323km | Total: 387km
Stage 8 | Jan 15 | San Juan de Marcona to Pisco | SS: 361km | Total: 576km
Stage 9 | Jan 16 | Pisco to Pisco | SS: 313km | Total: 410km
Stage 10 | Jan 17 | Pisco to Lima | SS: 112km | Total: 358km

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