QAISUMAH (Saudi Arabia), Jan 4 — Carlos Sainz won today’s third stage of the Dakar Rally to mark the first success of Audi’s new hybrid car in the gruelling road trip in the Saudi Arabian desert.

While Sainz, 59 and a three-time Dakar winner, celebrated his 40th career stage win Nasser Al-Attiyah tightened his grip on the overall lead.

The Qatari, on the hunt for his fourth title, pulled 37 minutes clear of Sebastien Loeb, who lost time when his car’s transmission broke.

The nine-time world rally champion made it to the finish line after 255 kilometres around Al Qaisumah but only on two-wheel drive.

Sainz took the day’s honours by over half a minute from South African Henrik Lategan with Dakar legend Stephane Peterhansel guiding his Audi hybrid into third.

Al-Attiyah came in eighth, with Loeb, 37th on the stage, now trailing by 37min40sec.

Portugal’s Joaquim Rodrigues won the bike stage ahead of American Mason Klein and his KTM teammate Toby Price of Australia.

The bike standings are led by another KTM rider, England’s Sam Sunderland by four seconds from Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren. — AFP