The leader’s closest challenger stumbled and fell on day 3 leaving Andrew and David Travis a 7 minute buffer to the next best, the Tuthill prepared Porsche 911 of Joost Van Cauwenberge and Jacques Castelein from Belgium. The Porsche however is on a charge, and stated their intentions by winning the last 3 stages of the day.
Day 3 took the crews south to the spectacular Rainbow Valley area, but not before they endured two 30 km stages on the way. The first of these, which was rough and very rocky for the first half, claimed the second placed Datsun 1600 SSS of Reddiex/Mitchell when they spun and beached the car in the middle of a rocky dry creek bed. In trying to drive out they did irreparable damage to the rear brakes forcing their retirement. The RX7 of Kaplan/Penney made it just a few hundred metres in to the stage before their electrical problems resurfaced, forcing them to miss the next 2 stages. They struck back with a 3rd fastest time on the last stage of the day but their missed stages has them well out of contention.
Very sandy and rough conditions met the crews as they headed south of the Hugh River Stock Route and on to Rainbow Valley and it was here that 5th placed Ian and Val Swan (Volvo 242) lost all but 4th gear forcing them out for the rest of the day. They will restart day 4 with a borrowed gearbox in what is probably the last ‘big rally’ for the former Australasian Safari winners.
The Porsche 911 and crew by contrast were revelling in the conditions, commenting at the end of one 53 km stage: “That stage was specially made for us, beautiful!” They took 3 wins for the day, 2 second places and a 3rd. They lost 57 seconds to Travis/Travis on the first 3 stages and took back 18 seconds on the last 3. With plenty of Dakar experience on board, this crew is looking to grab back more time on day 4 when the opening stages touch the northern edge of the Simpson Desert. They start day 4 in second place, 6:22 ahead of the Argentine crew of Perez-Companc/Volta in a Viking Motorsport Group 4 Ford Escort who also moved up through the day and were enjoying the tough conditions.