Dakar Stage 4: Tough day closes up front runners
Arequipa to Moquengua 218 mile Special stage with 99 mile liaison
Stage four of the 2019 Dakar was another brutal affair that saw the world best rally riders put it all on the line in a bid to make their mark on the race. The 218 mile timed Special Stage was split onto two parts where riders had to deal with a combination of Fesh Fesh (deep sand with the consistency of talcum powder) and hard packed rocky river beds.
Starting down the order following their difficult stage three Honda man Ricky Brabec and KTM riders Matthias Walkner and Toby Price were in fine form. With plenty of tracks to follow through the sand the three men were the class of the day and finished first, second and third, clawing back a huge part of the time they lost the previous day.
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Walkner said: “The day was good for me – the bike is running well and I didn’t crash at all today. I did land quite hard from one jump and thought I might have injured my ankle but it seems to be ok. It’s great here in the bivouac, we are all here together as one team and that feels good. I managed to get some time back in the overall today, so I’ll aim to do the same tomorrow.”
Britain’s Sam Sunderland once again delivered the goods to claim fourth on the stage, a result that moves him up to fifth in the overall standings just 5m 45s behind overall leader Brabec.
During his Dakar career, stage four of the race has been Sunderland’s nemesis having been forced to retire from it three times over the last five years. In fact the only time Sunderland has progressed past stage four was in 2017 when he went on to win the race outright.
He said: “The day started off on some wide-open plains, which was nice. But then they had us go through some really technical stuff, which turned out to be really tricky. I dropped the bike at one point in a ravine and had some trouble getting it to point in the right direction again, but apart from that everything was good. I had to focus to keep my pace at the end there, but I’m happy with my result and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Stage four also marked the first part of the marathon stage meaning that riders had to take extra care as they will sleep in a separate bivouac tonight where there is no team and will have to do any maintenance on their bikes themselves.
Max Hunt continued to impress on stage four, finishing first Malle Moto rider and 47thon the stage. Being a marathon stage will have no impact on Hunt as being a Malle Moto rider he is allowed no outside assistance at any point of the race. Hunt now holds 38thoverall and is leading his class.
Third Brit Richard Main had to deal with a stomach upset, but still managed a highly credible 81stposition at the end of the day. He now holds 91stoverall in his first ever Dakar.
Stage 4 results
1 Ricky Brabec Honda 3h 40m 30s
2 Matthias Walkner KTM + 6m 19s
3 Toby Price KTM +7m 7s
4 Sam Sunderland KTM + 11m 35s
5 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 13m 29s
6 Paolo Goncalves Honda + 13m 36s
1 Ricky Brabec Honda 12h 33m 00s
2 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 2m 19s
3 Toby Price KTM + 4m 22s
4 Sam Sunderland KTM + 5m 45s
5 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha +8m 56s
6 Kevin Benavides Honda + 9m 01s
7 Matthias Walkner KTM + 9m 31s