Spanish Honda rider Joan Barreda has pulled out of the Dakar Rally for the second straight year after his bike became stranded in a basin early in the timed portion of Wednesday's third stage from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa.
Barreda, who was one of the pre-race favorites and was leading the bikes category after the second stage, had to be pulled out by helicopter at the 143-kilometer mark of Wednesday's special (timed portion).
He had crashed and become stuck at a spot roughly 300 meters (985 feet) from the right track shortly before 9 am, according to the Dakar Rally's official Web site.
Barreda had a slim one-minute, 31-second lead over Austrian defending champion Matthias Walkner (KTM) at the start of Wednesday's third stage, which featured a 467-km liaison portion and a 331-km special.
Following his latest mishap, the Spaniard now has abandoned four of the nine Dakar Rally events he has competed in since 2011.
Barreda was in first place after winning Monday's first stage from Lima to Pisco and finishing third in Tuesday's second stage from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona.
The Spaniard was considered the top rider for Honda, which has suffered a crushing blow in its bid to snap KTM's streak of 17 consecutive victories in Dakar's bikes competition (dating back to 2001).
The Japanese brand's hopes now rest on Argentine rider Kevin Benavides, the runner-up in the bikes category in last year's race.
The 2019 Dakar Rally is being held entirely in Peru, marking the first time the event has been hosted by a single country.