After the difficulties that numerous competitors experienced yesterday, the 2013 Dakar Rally moved on to its longest day of action so far. The 717km that racers experience today were broken down into a 288km connecting stage, before they tackled the challenging demands of a 429 km special.
Bikes: Despres loses ground
After losing time yesterday, Juan Pedrero Garcia was one of the first to one again experience problems, as he was delayed by several minutes with what was believed to be a technical problem just 45km into the special. Frans Verhoeven, who started strongly on day one, was also in difficulties as he too experience technical problems that lost him around ten minutes.
Things were no better for British hopeful James West who was similarly delayed by five minutes early on.
But, after his troubles yesterday, Joan Barreda Bort was having a stronger run. He initially was the one to beat, leading proceedings at the 105km checkpoint marker and stretched his advantage over Gerard Farres Guell by five minutes and 36 seconds by the next checkpoint. However, things were not going as well for overall leader Cyril Despres or his rival Francisco Lopez. The pair lost eleven minutes and fifteen minutes respectively to Barreda Bort early on.
By the end of the long gruelling stage, Barreda Bort had opened his advantage over one of yesterday’s start performers, Olivier Pain, to eight minutes and twenty three seconds. David Casteu followed his countryman home to third to complete another strong run, ten minutes and 42 seconds off the pace.
“After a bad day yesterday, when I broke the spokes of my wheel and lost heaps of time, I rode very well today. I started from far back and was able to go on the attack from the beginning to the end. Nothing is lost yet, so I’m going to fight every day to move back to the front,” Barreda Bort said after today’s action.
Despres’ and Lopez’s bad day was confirmed by the end, with them finishing 17 minutes and 23 minutes off the pace. Another favourite, Paulo Gonçalves, was 19 minutes behind.
As such, Despres now loses the lead of the bike category, and drops to third in the overall standings behind Pain and Casteu, some three minutes and nine seconds behind. Barreda Bort’s strong day was emphasised in the overall standings, as he moves into fourth position.
Quads: Patronelli holds firm
Just as yesterday, Marcos Patronelli extends his lead with a dominant performance over the rest of the field. He posted the fastest times right through all of the checkpoints along the stage to confirm the strong form that he has in this event.
Patronelli posted the fastest time at checkpoint one, 173km into proceedings, comfortably beating Sebastian Husseini’s best by eight minutes. He extended that advantage to nine and a half minutes by the time the field passed through the next checkpoint. His time of four hours and twenty five minutes would eventually cement his name at the top of the times, beating Husseini by a margin of nine minutes and 48 seconds.
“It really was a difficult stage, quite complicated especially when we had the sun in our faces. There was also lots of fesh-fesh. It was difficult. But it was such a beautiful stage, I’d almost like to come back here!” Patronelli said.
“The big descent was wonderful, very long. At times the stage was really magnificent. There was a ten-kilometre section alongside the beach, which was nice too. After that, there were lots of little tracks that were very rocky and the quad was bouncing from side to side. In the end, it was a tiring stage and now there is a long way to get to the bivouac.”
Such domination of this category so far means that Patronelli now has a healthy lead of fourteen minutes and six seconds over Husseini in the overall classification. The pair remains well clear of anyone else, with Polish rider Rafal Sonik holding third place in the overall standings now being just over an hour behind Patronelli.
Cars: Al-Attiyah takes his second stage victory
Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to put pressure on Stéphane Peterhansel after enjoying his second stage victory in two days.
Elsewhere, things continued to go badly for Robby Gordon, who managed to roll his Hummer onto its roof just 29km into the stage. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear like Robby or his navigator suffered any injuries, but it is currently unclear as to whether he managed to complete the stage or not. Lucio Alvarez was also in difficulties and losing time due to technical problems.
52km into proceedings, Guerlain Chicherit led Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah in the provisional standings, but at the first check point Al-Attiyah had managed to surge ahead of those in front of him. Things would soon turn sour for team mate Sainz once more however, with a reported reoccurrence of technical problems that have cost him dearly in recent days. This time he lost twenty minutes.
Up front, it was still close, with Chicherit retaking the advantage by the next checkpoint, with Peterhansel and Al-Attiyah not far behind. However, despite Chicherit’s dominance of the latter part of the stage, Al-Attiyah was still able to claim the fastest time of the day. Only thirty six seconds would split the Red Bull man from the SMG buggy at the end of the gruelling stage, with Peterhansel enjoying a competitive run, eventually ending one minute and seventeen seconds off the pace of Al-Attiyah.
“In the dunes at the start, it was very difficult to open the way, but in the end we are here without any problem at all and a good time as well so we are happy. Of course, we know that tomorrow the terrain is going to be less easy for the buggies and we will probably lose a bit of time, but since it should be better for us in Chile, I’m not worried, especially since we are out in front and not far behind Peterhansel,” Al-Attiyah said.
Therefore, Peterhansel’s overall lead now stands at five minutes and sixteen seconds over the Qatari, whilst thanks to his consistency, Giniel de Villiers maintains third, 33 minutes off the pace.
Despite his strong day today, Chicherit still languishes in the overall standings due to earlier problems and is in sixth place, 42 minutes behind Peterhansel.
Trucks: A scare for de Rooy
The leader of the truck category, Gerard de Rooy, suffered a minor scare today, after briefly suffering a delay on today’s stage.
Meanwhile, Russian driver Ayrat Mardeev was the surprise winner of today’s action, posting the fastest time and benefiting from the problems that de Rooy and Miki Biasion suffered. The latter was delayed for around twenty minutes just 46km into the stage, the cause of which is believed to be that he was stuck in the sand.
There was drama at the front of the pack too. Eduard Nikolaev initially led and posted the best time at the 105km checkpoint, but was soon delayed for fifteen minutes and dropped back, costing him any chance of posting a competitive time.
Mardeev’s winning time of four hours and four minutes was enough to better the time of second placed Andrey Karginov by three minutes and 33 seconds.
However, in the overall classification, there is a change. After his solid sixth place finish Ales Loprais now moves ahead of long-time leader Gerard de Rooy. He enjoys the smallest advantage of anyone after day four, with just under a minute separating the two. Nikolaev, despite his set back today, maintains third place and is seven minutes off the pace.
2013 Dakar Rally sage four results
|1||Joan Barreda Bort||Husqvarna||03:41:09|
|4||Gerard Farres Guell||Honda||03:52:49||00:11:40|
|4||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||03:33:03||00:04:17|
2012 Dakar Rally overall standings after stage four
|4||Joan Barreda Bort||Husqvarna||10:16:16||00:05:38|
|4||Ignacio Nicolas Casale||Yamaha||12:25:55||01:04:18|
|3||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||09:37:51||00:33:22|
|2||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||10:54:37||00:00:56|