Rebounding from a problematic start to his Dakar Rally, Stephane Peterhansel rebounded to win the fourth stage in Saudia Arabia with his JCW X-Raid Mini (pictured above). In doing so, the French driver – a 13-time Dakar winner — followed in the footsteps of Giniel De Villiers by scoring stage wins in all three continents that have hosted the marathon event.
“It feels good after all that trouble in the first few days, even though we had a flat tire and got lost once,” said Peterhansel, who led home Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah by 2m26s today, although he remains third overall behind Mini teammate Carlos Sainz and Al-Attiyah. “It wasn’t a flawless special, but it feels great to take the win.”
The 281-mile stage from Neom to Al-Ula was tougher on Sainz, who won yesterday’s stage but slipped to third today, although he rebounded enough to retain his overall lead by 3m03s.
“Leading the charge was hard and Carlos lost some time, but he did an amazing job because it didn’t take him long to get back on track,” Peterhansel added. “He might be the MVP today. There were more stones than expected and the final 60 kilometers were really difficult.
“My co-driver and I are starting to communicate more serenely and accurately — it’s getting better. This new Dakar is brilliant, it has all the ingredients: superb landscapes, tricky navigation and enough difficulties to make a selection. The organizers have been perfect so far.”
His comments were echoed by Sam Sunderland, who won the stage in the bike class by a narrow margin before being assessed a 5m penalty for excessive speed, handing the stage win to Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo. America’s Ricky Brabec leads the class overall by 2m30s over Monster Energy Honda teammate Kevin Benavides.
“It was really difficult at first because I had a lost of dust from the guys in front, but after I passed through them I could open up a bit and get some clean air and push,” said the Briton. “I tried to keep a good rhythm until the end, but it was a really difficult stage.
“Every day is different, but I actually like the new rules and the fact that we don’t have to paint the road books in the evening. It’s just the nature of the route. The canyons yesterday, today there were so many of these big stones — it’s cool that there’s a big variance, It’s like a big adventure each day, which is how I guess it should be.”
Tomorrow’s fifth stage takes the runners and riders through more dunes and big rocks from Al Ula to Ha’il.