After an elemental day on Monday, Morocco was bathed in bright sunshine for the third leg of the Rallye International du Maroc, which took the competitors in a loop around Ouarzazate: a town famous not only for motorsport but also for its film studios.

Hollywood comes to Ouarzazate for its wide open spaces and spectacular locations, which are equally appealing to rally drivers. Today's three stages contained a fascinating mix of roads, from flat-out straights similar to motorways to slower and more technical sections.

Belgian driver Gregoire De Mevius continues to lead the event in his Kronos Racing Porsche 911 after stretching his advantage to 2m10s over Ford Escort driver Geoff Bell from South Africa. But this margin is absolutely nothing on an event that takes in 2830 kilometres over the space of an action-packed week.

Both De Mevius and Bell set stage times that were in the top three all day, but the star performer was the legendary Michele Mouton, who set two fastest times in her Porsche to storm up the leaderboard to third overall, albeit 25 minutes behind the leader.

Believe it or not, even this deficit is possible to make up on the Rallye de Maroc, which requires a sharp brain as well as a committed right foot. Britain's John Lloyd slips down from third to fourth in his Ford Escort, in front of the Porsche 911 of Steve Troman and the Ford Escort of Aslam Khan. After more than 900 kilometres so far, Khan now leads the Citroen DS of Frederic Daunat by just four seconds!

The variety of cars in Morocco is reflected in the extensive diversity of drivers. As well as icons of the sport such as Mouton, the event also welcomes complete novices such as Scottish driver Derek Melville, competing on his very first rally. Melville, who owns a pharmaceutical company as his day job, only had time to test his Tuthill Porsche 911 briefly before heading out to Morocco but he already describes the rally as the experience of a lifetime. Melville is currently 11th, having got lost on the opening stage, but for him it is all about getting to the finish rather than sealing a headline result.

"I've always been a fan of cars and rallying, but I wanted a challenge that I felt I would cope with," said Melville. "It's been great: driving the car is simply enormous fun, particularly through landscapes as amazing as these ones. I wanted an adventure and I've certainly not been disappointed so far. The amazing thing is that there is still so far to go and several more adventures left to be had..."

Two of the frontrunners hit problems today on the opening stage. Bjorn Waldegard, the 1979 World Rally Champion, had to retire his Peugeot 504 for the day after the car's front suspension broke. Paul Darrouzet from Australia also went out due to a split rear axle casing five kilometres from the end of the first stage, but will fix his Ford Capri Perana in time for tomorrow's action.

The fourth day takes the competitors to an overnight halt at a bivouac at Foum Zguid. Three stages will be run, making a total of 269 stage kilometres and 234 road kilometres, before the competitors sleep under the stars...

Top 10 classification after day three:

1 Gregoire de Mevius (B)/Nicolas Gilsoul (B) Porsche 911 4h51m40s
2 Geoff Bell (ZA)/Tim Challen (EAK) Porsche 911 4h53m50s
3 Michele Mouton (F)/Fabrizia Pons (I) Porsche 911 5h17m37s
4 John Lloyd (GB)/Adrian Cavenagh (GB) Ford Escort 5h23m18s
5 Steve Troman (GB)/Calvin Cooledge (GB) Porsche 911 5h26m50s
6 Aslam Khan (EAK)/Ashard Khan (EAK) Ford Escort 5h35m27s
7 Frederic Daunat (F)/Guy Chirqui (F) Citroen DS 5h35m31s
8 Jac Nelleman (DK)/Joseph Huber (CH) Porsche 911 5h41m43s
9 Paul Darrouzet (AUS)/Jim Hurman (GB) Ford Capri Perana 7h19m13s
10 Ray Bellm (GB)/Paul Lanzante (F) Peugeot 504 7h21m38s 
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