Dakar SS3 X-Raid : Zala makes it into the overall top 10

214 ZALA Vaidotas (ltu), FIUZA Paulo (prt), X-Raid Arijus Team, Mini John Cooper Works Rally Plus, FIA Ultimate, action during the Stage 3 of the Dakar 2024 on January 8, 2024 between Al Duwadimi and Al Salamiya, Saudi Arabia - Photo Frédéric Le Floc'h / DPPI

– Tenth place of the day for Vaidotas Zala
– Marathon stage ‘light’ for the crews

On the third stage from Al Duwadimi to Al Salamiyah, Vaidotas Zala and Paulo Fiuza in the MINI JCW Rally Plus made it into the top 10. They secured tenth place on the 438-kilometre stage and also took over this position in the overall standings. The MINI JCW Rally Plus crew Krzysztof Holowczyc and Lukasz Kurzeja finished in 25th place. The three X-raid 1000R Turbo side-by-sides are currently still in the competition. Pau Navarro and Goncalo Reis unfortunately had to end the Dakar early. Navarro injured his wrist in yesterday’s rollover and had to withdraw from the race.

Today the riders will complete a ‘light’ marathon stage. After the stage, the team is allowed to work on the race cars for two hours. These are then parked in the parc fermé in Al Salamiyah and may not be touched again until tomorrow morning before departure. While the teams then have to drive on to Al Hofuf, the crews stay in Al Salamiyah and spend the night in tents provided by the organisation.

Today, careful handling of the vehicle was the order of the day. After all, the mechanics don’t have much time to check the vehicles and prepare them for tomorrow’s fourth stage. So after a flat tyre at the start of the stage, Zala took no further risks. Nevertheless, he still managed to secure tenth place.

It was a difficult day for Holowczyc and Kurzeja after their bad luck yesterday. A motorcyclist crashed directly in front of them. During the evasive manoeuvre, he hit a large stone and severely damaged the vehicle. Although the mechanics were able to repair the MINI JCW Rally Plus, the Polish duo received a penalty time of 23 hours and 30 minutes. From 29th on the grid, he was able to make up a few positions and finished 25th.

Tomorrow the crews will head to Al Hofuf, where the teams will be waiting for them. But first they have to complete 299 kilometres against the clock and 332 km of liaison stage. The stage consists mainly of gravel sections with a short excursion into the dunes at the very end.

Quotes from the drivers
Vaidotas Zala (#214 MINI JCW Rally Plus): « It was another long and demanding stage with lots of stones. Unfortunately, we suffered a puncture after around 30 kilometres. That knocked our confidence a little and we became more cautious. On the other hand, we got through the stage well and brought the MINI to the finish in good condition. We also made it into the top 10 in the overall standings. But we still have a lot of kilometres ahead of us. »

Dakar 2024 – result SS3 (Ultimate-class)
1. L. Moraes / A. Monleon – Toyota – 4h 14m 51s
2. M. Ekström / E. Bergkvist – Audi – 4h 15m 00s
3. Y. Al-Rajhi / T. Gottschalk – Toyota – 4h 16m 00s
4. N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel – Prodrive – 4h 16m 24s
5. R. Dumas / M. Delfino – Toyota – 4h 16m 52s…
10. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 4h 29m 01s…
25. K. Holowczyc / L. Kurzeja – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 4h 39m 17s…

Overall standings (Ultimate-class)
1. Y. Al-Rajhi / T. Gottschalk – Toyota – 13h 07m 29s
2. C. Sainz / L. Cruz – Audi – 13h 07m 58s
3. M. Ekström / E. Bergkvist – Audi – 13h 15m 55s
4. L. Moraes / A. Monleon – Toyota – 13h 16m 46s
5. N. Al-Attyiah / M. Baumel – Prodrive – 13h 18m 18s…
10. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 13h 33m 41s…
36.+ K. Holowczyc / L. Kurzeja – MINI JCW Rally Plus – 44h 49m 54s…