Al-Attiyah extends lead after Al-Rahji penalty, Quintero wins again on Dakar stage 4

Image courtesy of Dakar Rally

Al-Attiyah extends lead after Al-Rahji penalty, Quintero wins again on Dakar stage 4

Off Road

Al-Attiyah extends lead after Al-Rahji penalty, Quintero wins again on Dakar stage 4


Yazeed Al-Rajhi looked set to lead the way in today’s fourth stage of the Dakar Rally, but the Saudi driver was handed a two-minute penalty for speeding with his Overdrive Toyota (pictured above), dropping him to fifth and handing the day’s top billing back to overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah. However, the added time was both ironic and actually a blessing in disguise for Al-Rajhi, now third overall, who admitted before learning of the penalty that he was hoping not to lead.

“We were trying not to go too fast to avoid having to open the stage tomorrow because there won’t be any motorbikes in front,” he said. “I hope we didn’t win the special!

“It was a good day despite the tricky navigation. Near the end of the special, we decided not to push too hard after driving well throughout the middle part. I’m impressed by the tires. I think last year we would’ve had to stop five times to fix punctures.”

Rebounding from yesterday’s fine and “suspended disqualification,” Al-Attiyah led the way 25s clear of Sebastien Loeb, and 52s up on Carlos Sainz, who was delayed by more mechanical issues with his electric Audi.

“It wasn’t too easy because we caught up with several vehicles at the start of the special and we decided to play it safe,” said the Qatari Toyota Gazoo Racing driver, who now leads overall by 38ms5s over Loeb’s Bahrain Extreme and 49m15s over Al-Rajhi. “The finale was very difficult, especially the part in the wadi, with plenty of navigation. We tried to set a high pace, but our plan was not having to open tomorrow because there will be no bikes and, therefore, no tracks. But, even if we falter a bit tomorrow in these conditions, it will put us in a favorable position for the next day.”

It was another strong day for America’s Seth Quintero, who took another comfortable stage win in the Light Prototype class, although he continues to lag in 17th overall after his mechanical troubles on stage 2.

In the bikes, Joan Barreda led the way for the Monster Energy Honda team, although Sam Sunderlund’s steady run to sixth maintained his overall advantage by 3m over Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner, who followed him home in seventh today. Barreda is now seventh overall, one place ahead of America’s Skyler Howes who placed 21st today. Fellow American Ricky Brabec is 18th with his Red Bull Honda, having finished 10th today.

On the quads, America’s Austin Jones settled for second today behind  Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira, but still holds a 5m13s overall advantage in the class over the Brazilian.

Trucks continues to be a Kamaz masterclass, with the team taking another 1-2-3 sweep, Eduard Nikolaev leading the way today after Russian teammate Dimitry Sotnikov lost time to a puncture and minor navigational error. Even so, Sotnikov continues to lead Nikolaev by 6m10s overall.