The marathon stage four of the Dakar Rally kicked off from Arequipa to Tacna with 250 miles of racing, and at the end of another duel with Stephane Peterhansel, Nasser Al-Attiyah got the better of the 13-time Dakar winner to win Stage 4 by 1m52s and strengthen his lead in the general standings.
“I’m quite happy today,” said Al-Attiyah, who opened up a lead of just under nine minutes. “We won the stage, but there is perhaps still a faster car out there. It was very important to catch Stephane and stay with him all the way. Yeah, I’m quite happy. Everything is ok -– there are no problems. Later we will check the car. There is still a long way to go. Me and Stephane, we are in the lead now and I’m quite happy, we’ll just keep going like this.”
Sebastian Loeb, running a Red Bull privateer entry with PH Sport), lost 30 minutes after suffering three punctures, but recovered well to finish fifth, and sits just over 12 minutes off the pace.
“I think we had a very good rhythm over the stage all the time, but we had three punctures so we had to change a wheel,” he explained. “At the end for the third puncture, we destroyed the wheel so we had to change it with another one which already had a puncture. We still had to do thirty kilometres and I think we lost half an hour with all that today, I guess.”
Defending race winner Carlos Sainz, who lost more than four hours in the third stage, recovered well from yesterday’s suspension disaster to keep himself in the top 10 ahead of fellow X-Raid Mini JCW Teammate Cyril Desires, who sits eighth.
American Ricky Brabec took the lead in the bike category with the second stage victory of his career, winning in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team riders limited the damage with Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Sam Sunderland finishing in that order behind the winner. But a heavy landing after a jump resulted in a suspected ankle injury for Walkner in the last 30 miles of the marathon stage, placing his start for tomorrow’s stage in doubt.
“My ankle feels quite hurt,” he admitted. “Fifty kilometers before the end I did a big jump and landed heavily. First I was thinking, ok, maybe it’s broken. It’s really painful now, but we will see how it is tomorrow and I’m going to put some ice on it. It was ok in the end [for the marathon stage], because I didn’t crash and the bike is running well, plus we are like a big group and a team and we help each other, so everything is good.”
In the quad category, Nicolas Cavigliasso of Drag’on Rally Team took the stage win with a time of 4 hours and 52 minutes ahead of Jeremias Gonzalez (Ferioli Ferioli Racing Team) and Alexandre Giroud (Team Giroud), third, 7 minutes and 35 seconds off the pace. It’s the third win out of four stages for the Argentinean favorite.
Sergey Karyakin took his first stage win in the SxS category and claimed the category lead in the process.
In trucks, Andrey Karginov battled with Martin Macík before eventually grabbing his second consecutive stage win and climbing to second place in the general standings. Fellow Kamaz Master and race leader Eduard Nikolaev recovered from a problem on the 17k-mile, clawing his way back to third ahead of fellow teammate Dmitry Sotnikov.