STAGE 4 | Neom -> Al ‘Ula | Date: 08.01.2020 | [GMT +3]
Special stage: 453 km | Stage total distance 672 km | Liaison: 219 km
Weather conditions: day +18С, night +2С; wind 5 m/s
The DAKAR rally marathon participants continue to study a new country – this year the event is completely held in Saudi Arabia.
The fourth stage of the rally was held in the mountainous region of Wadi Al Disah, located in the southwestern province of Tabuk. Wadi (often used option – “valley”) is located in the natural reserve of Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the organizers, the DAKAR rally marathon fourth stage route was an approximately equal ratio of sand and rocky legs with gravel sections – only 14% of the distance had to be covered with stones. In fact, everything turned out to be like that, but the DAKAR multiple participants have not seen such stones in their entire careers.
According to the racers, it has been the stoniest stage since the race start. It was not a track, but a trial with stones of different sizes ingrown into the ground during eighty final kilometers of the special stage. It seems to be a little from the overall stage length point of view, but it was this stony segment that affected the rankings in the group of leaders.
The route ran at altitudes from 1,000 to 1,400 meters above sea level again. Looking at the stage map, it might seem that the course was too direct, but in fact it was not – navigation was difficult, there were many parallel tracks, as it has already happened earlier at this race.
The past day has again become an arena of intense struggle in each standing. At the same time, several favorites in the Car and Truck standings faced different troubles once again.
Stones, stones, stones – absolutely all racers have spoken about them at the special stage finish today. The last few tens of kilometers of the distance, the crews covered at a speed of no more than 30 kmph – so as not to damage the wheels. Those who were lucky enough to keep the tyres intact took high places at the finish line. But there were racers who were unlucky – they punctured the wheels and lost a lot of time. Unfortunately, two crews in MAZ trucks were unlucky today for this reason.
So, the leader of the DAKAR Truck standings has changed again. Today the MAZ-SPORTauto team crew led by Sergey VYAZOVICH and supported by Gazpromneft – Lubricants has lost 13 minutes to their main opponent Andrey Karginov from the KAMAZ-Master team and, after four stages, the Russian became the leader in the standings. The Belarusian racer is taking the second place in the intermediate classification, losing about 11 minutes to the leader. Anton Shibalov is the third in the general classification, four minutes behind VYAZOVICH.
In the course of the fourth special stage, the leader changed twice. Sergey VYAZOVICH, performing in the bonneted MAZ with the G-Energy logo on board, led the race from the start. However, by the middle of the day’s distance, Andrey Karginov and Anton Shibalov from the KAMAZ-Master team were ahead of him.
Then VYAZOVICH punctured one of the wheels and was forced to stop to replace it – it cost the Belarusian crew more than 10 minutes. Each puncture and the subsequent replacement of the wheel with a spare one is a waste of time, therefore, on rocky stretches of the distance the crews try to keep the tyres intact.
However, no matter how hard Sergey VYAZOVICH tried, he did not succeed in avoiding the second puncture. Fortunately, the puncture was “slow” and the truck managed to get to the special stage finish, using the tyre inflation system. At the same time, VYAZOVICH simultaneously won three positions on the last kilometers of the fourth day distance, finishing the day sixth following the hybrid truck of Gert Huzink.
Alexey VISHNEVSKY, also representing the MAZ-SPORTauto team, completed the fourth stage with the ninth result. And his teammate Alexander VASILEVSKY set the 14th time – he also punctured two wheels.
But not only the Belarusian team racers suffered from punctures. Last year’s DAKAR winner Eduard Nikolaev from the KAMAZ-master team also pierced two wheels and his teammate Dmitry Sotnikov even had to stop to give one of their spare wheels – so that Nikolaev had at least one undamaged spare.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL FIND TOMORROW
On 9 January, the fifth stage will be the first third of the DAKAR 2020 distance. The 353-kilometer special stage will finally lead racers and riders to the huge dunes – almost half of the route on Thursday will pass in the sands. However, there are also enough rocks and stones, they will serve as excellent landmarks for co-drivers, but participants should also not forget about the risk of a puncture.
The G-Energy oils analysis showed that there is a high concentration of silicon in the power units of all MAZ vehicles. That is, atmospheric dust actively gets in. Nevertheless, the falling abrasive does not have any effect on the components of the assemblies and does not cause increased wear, because the oils used can cope and provide the necessary anti-wear properties. Including such conditions of high dust content.
Sergey Vyazovich, International Master of Motorsports of the Republic of Belarus, head of the MAZ-SPORTauto team, crew No. 503 driver,“Today we have used up one spare wheel. There were two punctures – we used the tyre inflation system once. Therefore, the pace was not very high. We drove so as not to change the wheel again. There was no complex navigation. Because where we drove along the hard roads at the first section – we drove fast. The second segment on the stones was also fast, but the track was clearly visible there. And the third part was driven really at the speed of 30 km/h, it was impossible to get lost. The speed wasn’t high, so we were driving clearly by the course. The second and third segments were really “killing”. The final part – I don’t even know why such sections are needed. It was very slow and long”.
Alexey Vishnevsky, Master of Motorsports of the Republic of Belarus, crew No. 528 driver,
“Today we’ve driven non-stop, without any problems. We had to overtake a lot, since we started the seventies. But in general we drove pretty well. At first there was a fairly fast track, but by the end of the distance the organizers forced us to drive on such stones that it was too much. It was not the track, but a solid off-road with such large stones that one could puncture everything. But we didn’t have any punctures – we’ve set this task for today, so as not to waste time. We will continue fighting”.
Alexander Vasilevsky, Candidate Master of Motorsports of the Republic of Belarus, crew No. 508 driver,
“The special stage was very difficult. It was rocky with a lot of stones. We are one of the unlucky crews that punctured two wheels and lost a lot of time. We drove the first half of the special stage well. After the start, nobody caught up with us or overtook us. The KAMAZ trucks followed us about two hundred kilometers, until we punctured the wheels. We pierced one wheel first and literally fifty kilometers before the finish we punctured the second one. And we had to slow down here on the stones, because there were no more spare wheels”.