Just two seconds separated the top two Dakar riders in the world at the end of stage four of the 2011 event. Spaniard Marc Coma beat Cyril Despres over the tough 761KM day, which included 207KM of timed special at an altitude of up to 4800m.
The factory KTM rider outpaced his arch rival Despres by 16 seconds after 2 hours 4 minutes of riding leaving him two seconds ahead of the Frenchman overall with nine days of riding still to go.
Coma said: "It was a very important day. I was the first rider on the stage, which made it difficult, but I am happy with the result. I hope it stays like that right until the end. The general standings don't matter for the moment. The most important thing will be the last day. It's essential to have a good pace and avoid making mistakes. Now my focus is on the next two days because we have two very difficult stages ahead of us."
Despres, who surrendered his overall lead of the Dakar for the first time said: "For this type of terrain that's so different you need to change the way your brain's wired. There's no more hard ground, just desert, off-track riding and surfaces that break up. It was a good start to the desert stages. Today, Marc Coma rode a great stage. It's a superb battle with Marc. Today again we opened up a little more of a gap on the others. This evening, I'm in second, 2 seconds behind. For a number 2, that's a neat trick, isn't it?"
Craig Bounds holds 50th place overall after finishing just 31m 29s behind stage winner Coma. Jenifer Morgan has unfortunately retired from the event.