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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 14:10 GMT
Masuoka closes in
Japan's reigning champion Hiroshi Masuoka
Masuoka is now in second place overall

Reigning champion Hiroshi Masuoka won the third stage of the Dakar Rally on Friday to move within 29 seconds of leader Stephane Peterhansel.

Masuoka won the 8km stage in a time of six minutes 42 seconds to move into second place overall.

Peterhansel finished five seconds slower than the Japanese driver.

South African Giniel de Villiers dropped from second to third in the standings after finishing sixth in his Nissan, 21 seconds adrift of Masuoka.

Two-time Dakar winner Richard Sainct of France retained the lead in the motorcycling section as main rival Alfie Cox made up just five seconds on him after finishing fifth in the stage.

I really don't care if I'm first or 50th

Truck racer Gerardus de Rooy

Sainct's compatriot Cyril Despres won the stage on a KTM, two seconds ahead of Dutchman Eric Verhoef and Spain's Marc Coma.

Despres said: "These three stages were to gain in confidence. I don't know what it'll be like on longer stages."

Sainct leads Cox by 10 seconds while Despres is third another eight seconds behind.

Meanwhile, Gerardus de Rooy set the fastest time in the truck category, but failed to overhaul father Johannes for the overall lead.

Johannes de Rooy holds a 34-second advantage over his son, with Corrado Pattono in third, over two minutes adrift.

Gerardus de Rooy said: "It was very good. The sand was perfect. I had a great time today.

"I only want to finish in Sharm El Sheikh and my dad will go for the podium but not me, definitely not. I really don't care if I'm first or 50th."

On Saturday the competitors will cross the Mediterranean by ferry to Tunis in preparation for the stage from there to Tozeur on Sunday.


Dakar Rally stage three results:

Cars:
1 Hiroshi Masuoka (Jpn) Mitsubishi 6min 42sec
2 Stephane Peterhansel (Fra) Mitsubishi at 5sec behind
3 Stephane Henrard (Bel) Volkswagen 13sec
4 Kenjiro Shinozuka (Jpn) Nissan 14
5 Miki Biasion (Ita) Mitsubishi 17
6 Giniel de Villiers (Rsa) Nissan 21
7 Ari Vatanen (Fin) Nissan 24
8 Dieter Depping (Ger) Volkswagen 26
9 Carlos Sousa (Por) Mitsubishi 28
10 Jean-Pierre Fontenay (Fra) Mitsubishi 30

Motorcycles:
1 Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM 6min 30sec
2 Eric Verhoef (Ned) KTM at 2sec behind
3 Marc Coma (Spa) KTM 10sec
4 Giovanni Sala (Spa) KTM 12
5 Alfie Cox (Rsa) KTM 14
6 Richard Sainct (Fra) KTM 19
7 Eric Aubijoux (Fra) KTM 29
8 Francois Flick (Fra) KTM 32
9 Joan Nani Roma (Spa) KTM 32
10 Alain Duclos (Fra) KTM 35

See also:

02 Jan 03 | Motorsport
01 Jan 03 | Motorsport
31 Dec 02 | Motorsport
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