Al-Attiyah wins again in Dakar Stage 4

Image courtesy of Toyota

Al-Attiyah wins again in Dakar Stage 4

Off Road

Al-Attiyah wins again in Dakar Stage 4

By

Toyota driver Nasser Al-Attiyah secured his third consecutive stage win of the Dakar Rally on Wednesday, dominating the 337km (209-mile) Wadi ad-Dawasir to Riyadh special stage from start to finish. However, he continues to trail MINI driver Stephane Peterhansel by nearly five minutes in the overall rankings.

“It wasn’t an easy stage. We lost a minute to an error, but we were hardly the only ones to make a mistake and we quickly got back on track,” related Al-Attiyah. “Opening up a gap is difficult, but today it was good to have my teammate Henk Lategan right behind me. That’s exactly what I need — a fast driver who can help me out.”

Peterhansel overhauled Lategan for second, finishing 11 seconds behind the Qatari on Wednesday in second place, and said he was pushing as hard as he could.

“We’re not marking one another, it’s just one relentless attack after another,” he said. “Apart from a small navigation error near the finish, I don’t think I can attack much more. To stay in contention, we need to go all out. So far, so good, as we aren’t making too many mistakes. In the old times, 50% of all contenders would be knocked out for the race by driving mistakes or technical issues, but it’s become far less common, so you just have to hold on.”

Sebastien Loeb continued his comeback run after a disastrous opening stage, finishing fourth to move up to that position overall behind reigning champion Carlos Sainz (fifth in Wednesday’s stage). At 48 minutes back, the nine-time WRC champion is down but certainly not out.

“We didn’t run into trouble today except for a couple of minor things that cost us a minute each,” said Loeb. “We went flat out from beginning to end, we had fun. There are many plateaus where you go really fast and it’s hard to open up a gap.”

In the bike category, Spaniard Joan Barreda won the stage for the Monster Energy Honda team by six minutes over KTM’s Daniel Sanders. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) finished today’s stage in fifth place, seven minutes behind winner Barreda, to move into the overall lead by a slim 15-second margin over the Spaniard.

“It’s difficult to open up large gaps in stages like these. We’d have to attack like a madman, but we’re already going very fast,” noted de Soultrait. “I again reached 175 km/h today. I could go faster, but I don’t feel like it. You also need to follow the roadbook. At any rate, my pace is really good.”

In Trucks, Dmitry Sotnikov padded his overall lead with his third stage win. The Russian now leads second-placed Martin Macík by 26 minutes.

“It wasn’t that easy. First there were dunes and then fields of rocks where we suffered a flat tire,” he said. “The second part was a nervous affair because we had another two punctures — it really wasn’t fun. Then came an easier, faster section, followed by a part with trickier navigation, but our co-driver did a great job.”

 

More RACER