Nasser Al-Attiyah suffered a major blow at 2017 Dakar Rally after mechanical failure on Stage 3.
The Qatari was heading the pack until kilometre 414 when he came to a dramatic stop after going off in a hole and breaking the rear right wheel of his car.
After eventually nursing his Hilux to the finish line, the Toyota Gazoo Racing leader had lost two hours and 17 minutes to stage winner Stéphane Peterhansel.
Al-Attiyah had earlier fended off the attack of Peterhansel and was looking good for the win when disaster struck.
Despite getting going again and covering several dozen kilometres at low speed, he stopped again after 444 kilometres to lose yet more time.
“Game over. It was bad luck. We hit the other side on big stone and we broke the wheel completely. It was a mistake, but a mistake is a mistake, you know. It’s bad luck, but this is the race; this is how the Dakar is, you know. We were doing a really good job, we were leading, but there you go”, Al-Attiyah said.
Later it was confirmed that Nasser Al-Attiyah will not start the fourth stage. The damage to his Toyota Hilux is too considerable to be repaired according to his team. As a result, one of the favourites for overall victory exits the Dakar.
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “It’s bad luck, but this is the race; this is how the Dakar is, you know”
Giniel de Villiers added that “this is how it goes at the Dakar”.
“This race can be so cruel – one day you can have everything going right, and the next day can be completely turned on its head. “And that’s what happened unfortunately for us. But we won’t give up, we’ll keep on trying, there’s still 10-11 days to go. So, a lot can still happen”, De Villiers said for motorsport.com.
Nani Roma was the least affected but he also stopped and lost time. It was an electrical issue in his car – it entered in a safe mode.