Where to start?!
Here we are on the morning of Stage 4, and the second half of the first marathon stage is due to begin in a few hours. The best word to sum up yesterday's action...chaos.
Competitors struggled in all categories on yesterday's stage despite the stunning scenery. In the bikes, the route was particularly tough, with very high altitudes (up to 4300m), the effects of heavy rain, very technical tracks and the usual heat and dust. Ruben Faria came off and received medical attention from the helicopter. Paulo Goncalves stayed with him and was therefore given his time back later on. Sam Sunderland, with a spectacular stage win under his belt on stage 2 was leading until CP1, but from then onwards made a navigational error which lead him (as well as Ben Grabham and others) down into a valley they struggled to get back out of!
Meanwhile, Helder Rodrigues had technical issues which lost him some time, Frans Verhoeven broke his arm in a fall after CP2, Peter Hardy's bike (and his rucksack) caught on fire. Chaleco Lopez's chain came off which cost him some time.
Frustratingly, both Sunderland and Lopez's Iritracks were on the blink while they were out on the stage, which made it almost impossible to find out what was going on! Live GPS tracking for the fans in future Dakar's surely has to be the way to go.
Despite having collided with a bull on stage 1, Barreda Bort had won that stage and continued to show his dominance on stage 3 with a well deserved win, having ridden intelligently and navigated well. All of which means that the front runners at the moment are Barreda Bort, followed by Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, who also had a good day on stage 3.
At this point, our British riders' time differences are: Sam Sunderland +02:28:06 and Paul Jay +02:37:48, well done lads, keep it going!
That's just the bikes...in the cars on stage 3, Al-Attiyah had no less than 4 punctures, only to be out-done by Mr Dakar. Yes, Peterhansel managed to get 6 punctures! De Villiers is now out in front.
Big news in the quads too, Patronelli is out! He retired out on the stage, having damaged his quad beyond repair, also possibly suffering from dehydration.
More big news in the trucks, Mardeev rolled his truck into a gulley on stage 2 and is now out! De Rooy stopped to help and in doing so dropped 15 minutes.
Onwards to the second half of the marathon stage, riders will be trying to conserve their tyres, but something tells me they won't be hanging around.