Having overcome a collapsed sub frame on his BMW 450 on stage three and finishing in 136th place, honorary Brit Simon Pavey got his 2011 Dakar back on target during stage four.
The day included a massive 500KM of liaison with riders setting off at 4am up the mountain pass of Paso De Jama into Chile. Although the initial ride was reasonably straight forward the extreme 4500m altitude took its toll on the riders.
Pavey said: “The altitude caught me really unawares. I didn’t suffer as bad as some people but it makes you uncontrollably tired, your eyes start to close and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s pretty scary especially riding mountain roads at 120km/h.”
“Finishing so far back on stage three meant that I started late and had a lot of slower riders to pass, but the stage went pretty well really. I climbed a fair few places and it can be hard to escape from being at the back of the pack because you’re always in dust and always trying to overtake people. I definitely struggled at the start of the stage, passing was difficult and the dust was really bad.
“The going was really mixed too, some of it was suited to me, technical river beds and difficult navigation and that’s where I made good time. I think a lot of people made navigation errors and it meant passing wasn’t to bad.”
“In the second half of the stage there were some really open and fast desert sections today with lots of hidden traps and must admit I always back off a little on them. For me the risk isn’t worth the 10km/h you gain. I always ride within my ability in the open desert because we see year on year that luck comes into that riding. I think I lost a little time in those sections to people my own speed because they are willing to push their abilities in the really fast areas. I must say that the last two stages, despite all my issues, have been incredible fun, the scenery has been nothing short of immense. It has been fantastic, some of the best riding I have ever done.”
Stage five is from Calama to Iquiqe and consists 423km special stage and just 36km liaison with the riders descending over 2000m as they leave the Andes behind.