Stage 3 - Neom > Neom
Liaison > 77km - Special > 427km
Stage 3, the first loop course of the event was based out of Neom and featured a 427km SS (timed section). Hino Team Sugawara’s Car 1 finished 14th overall in the trucks category. The truck climbed to 13th place in accumulated overall rankings and maintained its top position in the under 10-litre Class.
The SS of the day started from the goal point of the previous day, about 2km away from the bivouac. The course took contestants in a counter clockwise direction in the smaller mountain areas near Neom, with the road surface mainly consisting of sandy ground shifting to rocky areas and also some hard ground. Because there were no dunes on the course, racers were generally able to pick up speed. Once across the finish line, contestants drove on a 77km liaison to reach the bivouac where their assistance squads waited. Skirting the Jordanian border, this was the northernmost route of the event.
Car 1 made a tactical decision, as its only stage 3 in the race, and the crew ran at a slightly reduced pace to avoid excessive stresses on the trucks body. That being said, thanks to the absence of any major problems and only a minor navigation issue, the truck clocked a finish time that was on par with the middle pack of racers in the cars category.
Meanwhile, Car 2, which had to stop on the course due to damage to its rear body (cargo deck) in stage 2 on January 6, received emergency repairs from team mechanics who rushed from the bivouac and arrived back at Neom around 1:00am. Although the three crew members are doing fine, the truck did not start in stage 3 and the team concentrated on repairing the truck. The plan is to re-join the competition on or after January 8.