Thursday, January 10
The 2019 Dakar Rally cranked up the challenge on stage four as all remaining competitors embarked on a marathon stage. Not only was there 350 kilometres of special stage to race, but also the extra jeopardy of being separated from the team mechanics overnight. Any repairs needed to the machines will need to be carried out by the competitors themselves – so they better have packed their spanners!
It was soon evident that a cautious approach to the marathon stage had gone out of the window in the car race. Dakar heavyweights Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)traded blows throughout the route from Arequipa to the marathon bivouac in Tacna.
13-time Dakar winner Peterhansel and co-driver David Castera (FRA) opened the road in their MINI John Cooper Works Buggy. The French duo did fantastically well to hold their position out front across the finish line.
“If you compare the first three days, this was something completely different. There were no dunes at all, only big valleys with a big open landscape and lots of fesh-fesh.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
The Toyota Hilux of Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA) bettered Peterhansel’s time by 1m52s to increase their lead in the general classification to 8m55s. If this nip and tuck battle continues between Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel we’ll be in for a classic contest. Al-Attiyah’s second stage win of this rally is his 33rd stage victory of an amazing Dakar career.
“We have our marathon stage checklist so we’ll work through that when we get to the bivouac. Everything was working great today so I don’t think we’ll have too much to do.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
The third fastest car on stage four belonged to Kuba Przygonski (POL) as the 2018 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup victor retained his place in the overall Top 5. Nine-time WRC winner Sébastien Loeb (FRA) battled back from a tough day yesterday along with Carlos Sainz (ESP)and Cyril Despres (FRA).
“We had a total of three punctures so we had stop three times. The tyres were getting completely destroyed so we had to keep changing them. This cost us time, more than 30 minutes.” – Sébastien Loeb
In the bike race there was a gutsy attack from Honda rider Ricky Brabec (USA). The American biker, who has perviously only completed the Dakar once, was rewarded for his efforts on day four with a stage win and the overall lead.
Hot on Brabec’s heels on stage four were the three former champions in the Red Bull KTM Factory Team. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Toby Price (AUS) and Sam Sunderland (GBR)finished the first part of the marathon stage with the second, third and fourth fastest times respectively. In the general classification it’s 2016 Dakar winner Price who leads this trio, sitting 4m22s behind Brabec in the overall.
“50 kilometres from the end there was a big jump I did some damage to my ankle. At first I thought it was broken because it was so painful. We’ll see, I’ll put some ice on it tonight and we’ll see how it feels tomorrow.” – Matthias Walkner
Elsewhere in the bike race further Red Bull KTM Factory Team riders Luciano Benavides (ARG)and Laia Sanz (ESP) are climbing the leaderboard as they string together impressive results. Daniel Nosiglia (BOL) is flying the flag for his family after the retirements of his brother and father on stage three.
“It was quite different this stage compared to what we have had so far. I enjoyed it and had lots of fun. We didn’t have any sand, just lots of fesh-fesh and many fast tracks.” – Daniel Nosiglia
There was an impressive move from Team Kamaz Master in the truck race on stage four as the Russians got a firm grip on the contest. Despite race leader Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) suffering a problem just 27 kilometres into the stage, he was able to battle back and retain top spot. Strong performances from fellow Kamaz truckers Andrey Karginov (RUS) and Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS)have the Russians on course to tie up all three podium places by the midway point of the Dakar.
“We arrived to Tacna without any technical problems so we can prepare for the next marathon day in a good way.” – Andrey Karginov
It was a tough day for Chaleco Lopez (CHI) in the side-by-side/UTV class as he conceded his lead in the overall rankings. Multiple stoppages on stage four cost the two-time bike race podium finisher over an hour. Two-time Dakar quad race winner Ignacio Casale (CHI) is enjoying a steady start to his SxS/UTV career, holding a place in the Top 10 after four stages.
After spending tonight in the marathon bivouacs of Moquegua (bikes and quads) and Tacna (cars, trucks and UTVs) the Dakar convoy will reunite tomorrow for a race back to Arequipa. Big distances are on the menu again for stage five as the competitors are tossed into the Ilo dunes. Those who manage to make it through will be granted a well earned Rest Day on Saturday before tackling the second week of this particularly harsh Dakar Rally.
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2019 Dakar Rally Car Race Top 5 (after four stages of 10)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 12h12m57s
2019 Dakar Rally Bike Race Top 5 (after four stages of 10)
1. Ricky Brabec (USA) Honda 12h33m00s
2019 Dakar Rally Truck Race Top 5 (after four stages of 10)
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz 13h52m04s
2019 Dakar Rally SxS/UTV Race Top 5 (after four stages of 10)
1. Sergei Kariakin (RUS) BRP +14h32m33s
2019 Dakar Rally Quad Race Top 5 (after four stages of 10)
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) Yamaha 15h49m19s
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We come to the Dakar to compete and fight. I’m really happy to be leading the race now, but there’s still a long way to go. The performance of the car has been great. We have our marathon stage checklist so we’ll work through that when we get to the bivouac. Everything was working great today so I don’t think we’ll have too much to do.”
Stéphane Peterhansel: “If you compare the first three days, this was something completely different. There were no dunes at all, only big valleys with a big open landscape and lots of fesh-fesh. The kind of fesh-fesh we find here in Peru and in the north of Chile. It’s such a fine powder that can get in the car as well as cover rocks.”
Kuba Przygonski: “All day we were driving on big stones and this was tough on the tyres for sure. It was a bumpy ride today because of the stones. We made some small mistakes with navigation, but we were able to keep a good rhythm for the most part. Tonight we’ll inspect the car, everything seems to be in the right place.”
Sébastien Loeb: “I think we had a very good rhythm in the stage the whole time. We had a total of three punctures so we had stop three times. The tyres were getting completely destroyed so we had to keep changing them. This cost us time, more than 30 minutes.”
Carlos Sainz: “Today was always going to be tough after we were in the stage all day yesterday. Our air conditioning stopped working so I had to open the window. That’s why I’m covered in dust.”
Cyril Despres: “The day didn’t start out great because we were missing pressure in one of our rear tyres. Driving like this for 180 kilometres was not easy. We managed to come back on Nani (Roma) and (Yazeed) Al-Rajhi and overtake them. The track was rough in places, in one three kilometre section we got two flat tyres.”
Matthias Walkner: “50 kilometres from the end there was a big jump and I did some damage to my ankle. At first I thought it was broken because it was so painful. We’ll see, I’ll put some ice on it tonight and we’ll see how it feels tomorrow. The good thing is I made no crash and the bike is running well so the marathon stage should not be any problem. We’re a big group and we can help each other out.”
Toby Price: “The last 30 to 40 kilometres of this stage in the rio with rocks and stones was pretty brutal. It’s the ones that catch you unexpectedly that hurt the most. I had a little off in that section which aggravated my wrist. I’m still here and I’m looking to get the best possible result each and every day. We’ll see where that takes us.”
Sam Sunderland: “Things started off at really high speed today on flat plains. Then after the refuel we were in some really technical areas with lots of riverbeds with big rocks and stones. I lost some time stuck in a ravine that wasn’t too comfortable. After that I lost touch with the boys so I had to push on a bit to close back up. I managed that so all in all it’s not so bad.”
Luciano Benavides: “It was a fast stage with lots of fesh-fesh. Overall it was a good stage. The bike is perfect, maybe I need to change a filter but nothing major. I’m happy to be here and looking forward to the next days.”
Daniel Nosiglia: “It was quite different this stage compared to what we have had so far. I enjoyed it and had lots of fun. We didn’t have any sand, just lots of fesh-fesh and many fast tracks.”
Laia Sanz: “It was good day, tough but good. It’s so important to be here with the bike in one piece because it’s the marathon stage. In the first part of the stage I was in the dust a lot and then the finish in the riverbed was also hard.”
Andrey Karginov: “We had two punctures today and a small problem with the wheels. We had to change two wheels in the soft sand, but it didn’t cost us too much time. There were also some navigation challenges for us. Finally we arrived to Tacna without any technical problems so we can prepare for the next marathon day in a good way.”
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