Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah has taken his third successive Dakar Rally stage win to reduce the gap to the event leader Stéphane Peterhansel to under four minutes, while Carlos Sainz is back in the podium places.
Three-time Dakar victor Sainz lost over half an hour on Tuesday’s 250.4-mile Wadi Ad-Dawsair loop due to a navigation error which left him over 33 minutes behind his X-raid Mini team-mate Peterhansel.
Sainz began Wednesday’s 209.4-mile Wadi Ad-Dawasir-Riyadh test by going fastest through the first waypoint. However, he was over two minutes slower than fellow triple Dakar winner Al-Attiyah by the time he reached the middle of the test.
Sainz clawed back Al-Attiyah’s advantage to 31 seconds at the last waypoint before the end of the stage, but that gap swelled to almost three minutes across the final 24.2 miles.
Peterhansel enjoyed the opposite fortune to his team-mate in the final section as he limited the time loss to Al-Attiyah to just 11 seconds – the gap had been as wide as over a minute at the halfway point. A post-stage one-minute penalty undid some of Peterhansel’s damage limitation.
Al-Attiyah’s 39th Dakar stage victory and Peterhansel’s penalty means his lead stands at just under four minutes, with Sainz moving from fourth to third despite his shaky end to the stage.
Sainz’s path to third place in the overall standings was eased when SRT Racing’s Mathieu Serradori lost over 20 minutes following a navigation error aboard his Century CR6.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sébastien Loeb and David Elena enjoyed their most competitive stage yet, as they pipped Sainz to the fourth-fastest time. This would have moved the WRC legends to fourth in the overall standings if they hadn’t picked up a five-minute penalty that dropped them to P7 overall.
Al-Attiyah’s TGR team-mate Henk Lategan was fastest after the fourth waypoint. However, the South African Dakar debutant lost time with a tire delamination in the final sections and dropped to third in the stage standings.
That was enough for Lategan to move from seventh place overall into fourth place with Overdrive Racing’s Jakub Przygónski setting a stage time that was five seconds slower than Al-Attiyah’s benchmark. The former two-wheeled Dakar star remains where he started the day – in fifth place overall.
Overdrive Racing’s Yazeed Al Rajhi encountered major woes for the second successive day as he once again ground to a halt in his Toyota Hilux and lost a considerable amount of time.
This compounded a miserable couple of days for the Overdrive Racing team, as Al Rajhi’s team-mate Bernhard Ten Brinke was eliminated from the rally on Tuesday after a 100-mph crash.
Nightmare for Gutierrez gives Quintero T3 lead
Red Bull Off-Road Junior Seth Quintero has taken the lead of the T3 Lightweight Prototype SSV class after Cristina Gutierrez lost almost an hour in the stage with multiple stoppages in the second half of the Wadi Ad-Dawasir-Riyadh test. It is believed that Gutierrez suffered a broken wheel bearing.
Gutierrez – future Extreme E team-mate of Sébastien Loeb – had been leading the class but was under threat from Quintero, who became the youngest Dakar stage winner on the second stage of the event.
The American now has a colossal lead in the T3 class, but he’s still someway off the overall SSV lead, which is still held by the South Racing T4 Can-Am of Francisco Lopez Contardo.
Aron Domzala managed to halve Contardo’s leading advantage with the fastest time on the fourth stage – some 1m45s quicker than the next best effort.
That next best effort was posted by ex-WRC driver Kris Meeke in his PH Sport T3. The five-time WRC event winner is attempting to recover from an incident-filled Dakar debut.
The Monster Energy Can-Am machine piloted by Austin Jones holds third in the T4 class after he eclipsed Contardo’s stage time by two seconds
Stage 4 (Wadi Ad-Dawasir – Riyadh) result
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel (Toyota Gazoo Racing) 2h35m59s
2 Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger (X-raid Mini JCW) +11s
3 Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +1m30s
4 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (X-raid Mini JCW) +2m56s
5 Jakub Przygónski/Timo Gottschalk (Overdrive Racing Toyota) +5m05s
6 Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi/Xavier Panseri (Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot) +7m22s
7 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter) +7m36s
8 Vladimir Vasilyev/Dmitro Tsyro (X-raid Mini JCW) +10m45s
9 Brian Baragwanath/Taye Perry (Century Racing) +11m31s
10 Orlando Terranova/Bernardo Graue (X-raid Mini JCW) +11m54s
Overall classification after Stage 4
1 Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger (X-raid Mini JCW) 13h15m12s
2 Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +3m58s
3 Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (X-raid Mini JCW) +35m19s
4 Henk Lategan/Brett Cummings (Toyota Gazoo Racing) +47m44s
5 Jakub Przygónski/Timo Gottschalk (Overdrive Racing Toyota) +48m16s
6 Mathieu Serradori/Fabian Lurquin (SRT Racing Century City Team) +51m58s
7 Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter) +52m14s
8 Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi/Xavier Panseri (Abu Dhabi Racing Peugeot) +1hr03m19s
9 Martin Prokop/Viktor Chytka (Orlen Team) +1hr07m51s
10 Nani Roma/Alex Winocq (Bahrain Raid Xtreme Hunter) +1hr16m50s