Rallye

Sam Sunderland Rebounds for 2018 Rally du Maroc Stage Three Win

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After a destroyed rear tyre cost him time on stage two, it was a better day on stage three for Sam Sunderland with the Brit taking the stage win. Photo: Rally Zone
Sam Sunderland has rebounded from a drama filled stage two to take the win on stage three of the 2018 Rally du Maroc.

By posting the second-fastest time of the day, Matthias Walkner moves to the top of the provisional overall standings one place ahead of Toby Price who finished the stage in sixth. Honda's Ricky Brabec was third ahead of Pablo Quintanilla and Yamaha's Franco Caimi.

Stage three of the 2018 Rally du Maroc marked the first half of the event‰Ûªs marathon stage. A short five-kilometre liaison led riders into a 275-kilometre timed special. Comprising a mixture of fast tracks, sand dunes and dry salt lakes, the stage challenged competitors‰Ûª navigation skills and stamina to the maximum. Riders will camp out overnight in a temporary bivouac and receive no outside assistance from their teams, only their teammates can help should any maintenance be needed to their machines.
Second place on stage three was enough to give Matthias Walkner the Rally lead. Photo: Rally Zone
Following his tough Stage Two, Sam Sunderland was the 21st rider into Sunday‰Ûªs stage. Using his skill and experience to successfully navigate the route, the 2017 Dakar champion was able to push hard on the mixed terrain and gain valuable time on the riders ahead. Crossing the line over one and a half minutes ahead of the second placed rider to take the stage win, Sunderland now moves up to 12th in the provisional overall standings.

Winner of the previous stage, Matthias Walkner led the riders away from the bivouac this morning with the aim of staying in front of the chasing pack. Navigating well throughout the 275 kilometres, the Austrian rider was first to make the finish but would ultimately lose out on the stage win to the chasing Sunderland. Nevertheless, his runner-up position was enough for Walkner to take the lead in the standings, over five minutes ahead of Toby Price.
Honda's Ricky Brabec finished third on stage and maintains third in the standings. Photo: Rally Zone
Although riding well on Stage Three, a number of small navigation errors cost Price valuable minutes on the challenging stage. The Australian rider ultimately reached the finish in sixth place, seven minutes and 44 seconds down on Sunderland. With two stages left to race and Toby Price still in the hunt for the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title,

Despite not having the most confident start and making some minor mistakes, Ricky Brabec managed to get a grip and get back on the right track. The American kept up a storming pace that saw him erase some of the time dropped in the earlier parts of the stage. The rider astride the Honda CRF450 RALLY clocked the day‰Ûªs third fastest time.

"The first stage of the marathon started out rough for me," Brabec explained. "I had a really bad feeling right away and I thought my day and results were finished. For me the first few notes were not clear I was trying to go faster to make up some time but doing this only makes the situation for navigating worse. I then relaxed and slowed down a bit to get the correct navigation and eventually, later in the stage, I caught up with the front runners due to a mistake they had made. I‰Ûªm very happy with the results and the goal is to finish the rally strongly and right now I feel like we are heading in the right direction."
Defending Champion Pablo Quintanilla finished fourth on stage and with main challenger Toby Price having a bad day his title defence is starting to look healthier. Photo: Rally Zone
Pablo Quintanilla was the third rider to take the start. Battling through demanding navigation and varied terrain, the Chilean rally star posted the fourth best time for the day. With two more stages left to be contested, Pablo is now less than two minutes behind Franco Caimi in fourth and 14 minutes behind a provisional top-three overall result.

Monday‰Ûªs Stage Four of the Rally du Maroc, will see riders leave the temporary bivouac of the marathon stage on a 317-kilometre route that includes a 294-kilometre timed special ‰ÛÒ the longest of the rally.
Toby Price still maintains second in the overall despite dropping 7 minutes and finishing 6th on stage. Photo: Rally Zone

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