Stephane Peterhansel takes Dakar stage win as Nasser Al-Attiyah leads

The third stage of the Dakar Rally from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, Peru, kicked off with a 467km liaison and a 331km special. Wednesday's stage proved ruthless as navigational errors and foggy conditions plagued the race.

Defending champion Carlos Sainz of X-Raid Mini JCW Team suffered a blow as a navigational error resulted in significant suspension damage only 38km into the stage. The Spaniard's hopes where diminished in reclaiming the title, after losing almost 5 hours in repairs.

Stephane Peterhansel commanded the stage win, reaching Arequipa with a time of 03h 54m 32s, beating Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by 3m 26s as Jakub Przygonski Orlen X-Raid Team nabbed third. Peterhansel is in third place overall, 7m 03s behind race leader Al-Attiyah.

Thirteen time Dakar champion, Peterhansel revealed: "It was a nice stage, with tough dunes and tricky navigation: hard-to-find waypoints in the valleys. It was a quintessentially Peruvian stage and the sign of things to come in the next few days."

Al-Attiyah fought back to take the overall lead from team-mate Giniel De Villiers as the pair prepare to take on tomorrows marathon stage.

Poland’s Jakub Przygońsk of Orlen X-Raid Team had a solid finish in third at the end of the third stage in Arequipa, fifth overall, and sitting less than 15 minutes behind the leaders.

Nine time World Rally champion and Red Bull privateer Sebastian Loeb, proved just how cruicial errors can be, after nabbing the second stage win yesterday, Loeb made a costly navigational error during the foggy conditions, conceding 42m 55s to Peterhansel, starting the marathon stage in eighth overall.

"It was very foggy, but the problem was getting lost," explained Loeb. "We couldn't find our way back, so we went around in circles… and lost half an hour doing this. We lost big time, so we'll start from far back tomorrow."

France's Cyril Despres of X-Raid Mini JCW Team also suffered navigational errors, slipping back to 6th but remianing in the Top 10.

In the bikes category, Xavier de Soultrait of the Yamaha team took the stage three win with a time of 4h 7m 42s, ahead of Pablo Quintanilla and Kevin Benavides.

Foggy conditions continued to plague the final leg of stage three as Sam Sunderland, the 2017 champion, battled fog and navigation challenges during the third stage nabbing third place in the overall standings.

KTM's reigning champion Matthias Walkner also got lost in the reduced visibility, dropping to eighth place overall, 21 minutes behind the lead.