Cyril Despres tackling the third stage of the Dakar Rally.

Defending champion and KTM rider Cyril Despres of France took the overall bike category lead from Joan Barreda Bort on the third stage of this year's Dakar Rally.

Despres, however, only came third in the 343km stage (between Pisco and Nazca in Peru), the win going to Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez (also on a KTM) and second place to Paulo Goncalves.

In the overall race, Despres now leads Lopez by 2min 51sec. Norwegian Pal Ullevalseter is third, some 4m59 adrift.

On the South African front, Darryl Curtis fell from seventh to 13th overall after finishing in 22nd place, two spots behind works KTM team-mate Riaan van Niekerk, who now stand in 25th place overall.

Van Niekerk remarked: "A very exciting day for me. I started 38th and had a lot of tracks to follow, so navigating wasn't much of an issue for me. I'm happy with my finish position and looking forward to tomorrow's stage. I'm expecting it to be a lot harder with lots of fesh fesh."

SA’s Brett Cummings (on a Honda) finished the stage in 77th place while in the quad section, Sarel van Biljon finished 10th on his E-ATV.

The fourth stage of the race takes place between Nazca and Arequipa on Tuesday and is twice as long, covering 717km. -IOL & AFP


1. Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez (KTM) 2h37m54

2. Paulo Goncalves (Husqvarna) +1m08

3. Cyril Despres (KTM) +4:08

4. Alessandro Botturi (Husqvarna) +5:05

5. Jakub Przygonski (KTM) +5:20

6. Daniel Gouet (Honda) +6:35

7. Gerard Farres Guell (Honda) +6:58

8. Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha) +7:22

9. Olivier Pain (Yamaha) +7:28

10. Javier Pizzolito (Honda) +7:39


1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 6h15m03

2. Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez (KTM) +2m51

3. Pal Ullevalseter (KTM) +4:59

4. Olivier Pain (Yamaha) +6:03

5. David Casteu (Yamaha) +6:08

6. Jeremias Israel Esquerre (Honda) +6:19

7. Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha) +8:08

8. Jordi Viladoms (Husqvarna) +9:08

9. Stefan Svitko (KTM) +9:40

10. Jakub Przygonski (KTM) +9:45