Neom, Saudi Arabia: Qatar's defending champion Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah finished second in the third stage of Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Al Attiyah, driving a Toyota, finished 3:31sec behind Carlos Sainz and it helped the three-time champion move to second in the overall standings.
“The day was okay! We finished the stage and today was a big day. We finished second. We had one flat tyre, but it was a big rock, you know?," said Al Attiyah.
"It was a good day and we’re second in the general standings overall.
"Tomorrow, I hope it will be a good day because I will start behind Carlos and we can get a good time. The navigation was difficult, not easy but we were really careful and we are quite happy. We just need to finish this week and then next week we can decide to push because there are a lot of dunes," said Al Atttiyah.
Spain's two-time champion Sainz, driving a Mini shot into the overall lead after winning the third stage, his 33rd stage victory in the race.
Sainz clocked 3hr 48.01sec around the loop-shaped 489km route setting out from the future megalopolis of Neom, in the north of the kingdom close to the Jordanian border.
After struggling Monday, Attiyah's teammate and ex-Formula One driver Fernando Alonso came in fifth.
Overnight leader Orlando Terranova of Argentina and second stage winner Giniel de Villiers both trailed in behind Sainz.
Mini's Terranova not only lost the lead in the general standings but finished 12:52 behind the stage winner, while De Villiers was 16:21 off the pace in his Toyota.
Wednesday's fourth stage sees the rally leave northwestern Saudi Arabia, a 453km special on a mix of sandy stretches and gravel sections, mostly on tracks, past Nabaetean temples towards the historic walled city of Al Ula.