A splendid fine sandy beach with a spectacular grouped start, more than 100 kilometres of dunes of all sizes and a tricky canyon to tackle just before the finish was the setting in the region of San Juan de Marcona for the long fourth stage that was favourable to surprises!
Adrien Van Beveren could not have hoped to have done better. Thanks to a big and brave victory, the Frenchman has jumped from 7th to 1st place in the general standings. The Yamaha rider took advantage of title holder Sam Sunderland withdrawing following a back injury caused by a jump, whilst Xavier de Soultrait and Matthias Walkner finished in second and third place. As for the car race, the top 3 was much less of a surprise, with another demonstration of strength by the Peugeots. Sébastien Loeb won his first stage victory of the year in front of Carlos Sainz, whilst Stéphane Peterhansel finished in third, concentrating on controlling the general standings. Nasser Al-Attiyah went through hell today and lost almost one hour. A skilled dune driver, he nevertheless twice got stuck in the sand. In the quad category, Sergey Karyakin finally put a stop to Ignacio Casale’s domination thanks to a narrow victory over the general standings leader.
Performance of the day
Called up at the last minute to replace the injured Paulo Gonçalves, Jose Ignacio Cornejo is enjoying a successful debut with the official Honda team. The young Chilean rider, who took part in his first Dakar in 2016, currently occupies 7th place in the general standings thanks to a fine seventh placed finish in San Juan de Marcona, making it his second consecutive top 10 finish.
A crushing blow
In contrast to his team-mates’ 1-2-3 finish, Cyril Despres experienced a nightmarish day behind the wheel of his Peugeot, due to losing a rear wheel after hitting a rock. The five times winner on a bike found it difficult to explain this mistake in a section without any apparent difficulties. Second in the general standings this morning and winner of stage 2, Despres is condemned to wait for long time until his assistance team arrives to try and repair in order for him to continue the rally. In any case, his ambitions in the general standings are well and truly crushed.
Stat of the day
With already 10 stage victories on the Dakar in just three editions, Sébastien Loeb is a man in a hurry. The best is probably yet to come for the Peugeot driver who is not particularly fond of navigation in and among the dunes, as opposed to the quicker terrains which the rally will soon encounter…
Quote of the day
Xavier de Soultrait: “It was full, full, full attack! I think we finished first and second with my team-mate. I started in the first wave on the beach and went out full throttle. I was in front during the first two hundred kilometres, but then Adrien caught up with me and we continued together through the dunes. When we ride together like that, I think that the riders following us need to do their utmost to hang on, because we couldn’t go any faster. Adrien established a gap in the dunes: he pushed and I told myself that I had to stick with him. I really had to pull all the stops out, because it wasn’t easy to follow him, but it was a bit like a chase right until the finish”.
Results after Stage 4: