BMW G450X-mounted Frans Verhoeven hadn’t finished better than 10th in any stage of this year’s Dakar Rally, but the Dutchman went out and won today’s 136-mile stage from Santiago, Chile to San Juan, Argentina – beating American Jonah Street by just three seconds.
Second place was Street’s best stage result of this year’s race with an eighth place in stage three his previous best. Street led today’s stage at the CP1 mark, 31 miles into the race, and then battled with Verhoeven the rest of the way with the Dutchman barely winning the third stage of his career.
Street is still seventh overall, some two hours and 35 minutes behind overall leader Cyril Despres.
Despres ended up seventh in today’s stage, but it did little to alter the overall standings as the Frenchman leads Pal Anders Ullevalseter by almost an hour and 21 minutes.
“It was strange at the beginning, because after 13 km, there was a banner stopping us following a track,” Despres said in a team release. “I went straight ahead for about 80 meters, but I turned around after I saw Marc Coma coming back in the other direction followed by other riders. After that, we carried on as a group. I rather enjoyed myself. It was quick today, 220 km in a flash. Was I being extremely careful? No. When I climb on the bike, I just can’t hold myself back. I just want to have fun”.
Ullevalseter finished fourth in today’s stage, but it was a good one for the Norwegian as he managed to gap his pursuers in the battle for second overall.
Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez Contardo is third overall after finishing fifth in today’s stage, losing a minute and 22 seconds to Ullevalseter.
Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues is fourth overall, and he’s now almost 10 minutes behind Ullevalseter in the battle for second overall. Rodrigues had a bad day today and ended up 15th in the stage.
Defending Dakar Champion Marc Coma ended up ninth today after making a navigational error early in the stage. He is 16th overall.