Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser used his experience of the Dakar rally to the full to win the first African stage of this year's race.
Schlesser is driving a self-built Ford-powered buggy
Schlesser, a Dakar winner in 1999 and 2000, clocked the fastest time in the third stage from Nador to Er Rachidia in Morocco in his self-built buggy.
Mitsubishi drivers Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan and Stephane Peterhansel of France came second and third.
Spain's Nani Roma finished sixth to capture the overall lead.
Former world rally champion Carlos Sainz, the winner of the first two stages through Portugal and Spain, finished nearly seven minutes behind in 12th position.
The Spaniard, making his Dakar debut in a Volkswagen Touareg prototype, dropped to fourth overall.
In the motorcycle section, the stage was won by KTM rider Australian Andy Caldecott ahead of his team-mates Andy Grider and Cyril Despres.
KTM riders continued to dominate the event, placing nine riders in the top 10.
Despres took the overall lead, followed by two Spanish KTM riders, Marc Coma and Jose Manuel Pellicer.
Tuesday's stage is a 639-km drive on Moroccan trails from Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate.
The rally runs until 15 January and also visits Mali, Mauritania, Guinea and Senegal.
Stage Three classification:
1. Jean-Louis Schlesser (France) Schlesser-Ford 2:50:58
2. Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) Mitsubishi 2:51:17
3. Stephane Peterhansel (France) Mitsubishi 2:51:35
4. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Germany) Volkswagen 2:51:54
5. Robby Gordon (United States) Hummer 2:52:28
6. Nani Roma (Spain) Mitsubishi 2:52:32
7. Mark Miller (United States) Volkswagen 2:53:12
8. Bruno Saby (France) Volkswagen 2:53:18
9. Giniel de Villiers (South Africa) Volkswagen 2:53:26
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) BMW 2:54:34
1. Andy Caldecott (Australia) KTM 3:21:11
2. Andy Grider (United States) KTM 3:24:15
3. Cyril Despres (France) KTM 3:24:17
4. Carlo de Gavardo (Chile) KTM 3:24:38
5. Jose Manuel Pellicer (Spain) KTM 3:25:22
6. Marc Coma (Spain) KTM 3:26:56
7. Rodrigo Amaral (Portugal) KTM 3:27:39
8. Xacob Agra (Spain) Yamaha 3:27:57
9. Chris Blais (United States) KTM 3:28:06
10. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (Norway) KTM 3:28:19
1. Nani Roma (Spa) Mitsubishi 5hr 27min 34sec
Masuoka (Jpn) Mitsubishi at 6sec
3. Bruno Saby (Fra) Volkswagen 54
4. Carlos Sainz (Spa) Volkswagen 56
5. Jutta Kleinschmidt (Ger)
6. Stephane Peterhansel (Fra) Mitsubishi 1:36
1. Cyril Despres (Fra) KTM 6hr 3min 12sec
2. Marc Coma (Spa)
KTM at 1:16
3. Jose Manuel Pellicer (Spa) KTM 1:39
Caldecott (Aus) KTM 3:41
4. Carlo de Gavardo (Chi) KTM 3:41
6. David Casteu (Fra) KTM 5:38