The competitors took the start of the 188 km long special stage at the Jasmina lake in Merzouga for a big loop in the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. It was Xavier De Soultrait who opened the track, passing first at the CP1 and CP2. From km 100 he rode with his team mate Franco Caimi till he got a bit lost in the final part characterized by river bed crossings and barely visible tracks.
The third stage of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally featured two loops with a joint start between SidebySide and bikes/quads. Then the bikes and quads were the first tackle the outer loop before getting their teeth into the inner loop, whilst the SxSs took the opposite route, starting with the inner loop and finishing with the outer one. A sand storm at the end of the stage made the life of the competitors really difficult, reducing the visibility.
Xavier de Soultrait opened the track for the majority of the stage, before being passed from the Himoinsa rider Gerard Farres (KTM) who finally won in front of Yamaha factory riders Caimi and De Soultrait. With todays result the De Soultrait still leads the general classification
The victory of the quad category went to #150 Tomas Kubiena. The Czech rider has been racing quads for 10 years. He was at the Afriquia Merzouga Rally in 2016 to prepare the Dakar and he returned this year to further improve his riding and navigation skills. French Simon Vitse finished second, with Nicolas Cavigliasso completing the provisional podium.
Also for the SxSs it was a demanding stage especially in terms of navigation on a very varied terrain, but in the end it was the Spanish duo Medero – Martin of Delfi Sport (#210) who dominated today’s stage, winning the provisional standing in front of Henrichy-Bersey and Tonetti-Roman.
It was another busy day for the coaches Giovanni Sala and Jean Brucy, who were along the stages to support the riders.