Dakar 2021 Stage 4 was the longest so far, with a total distance of 813km (337km special) – and unexpected results once more with Joan Barreda Bort winning the stage again, Ross Branch, the Kalahari Ferrari, coming in second, and Aussie Daniel Sanders placing third. Ricky Brabec fared less well, coming in 18th, while American privateer Skyler Howes fell to the 20th place. Overall, Xavier de Soultrait is now first in the general rankings followed by Joan Barreda, Kevin Benavides, Ross Branch, and Skyler Howes.
“It was another good stage. I started very far back because of my result yesterday, but that’s the way it is in this Dakar, you’re either at the front or far back. We need to keep it up. I’ve used three tyres so far. I think the one I used today is quite worn, but I was supposed to use it for three days, so it’s not great news. But we’ll see what we can do in the coming days”, Barreda said after today’s finish.
Ricky Brabec says the team is trying to come up with a new strategy.
“It’s really complicated, of course there’s some frustration. We need to figure out how to end up in the top 10, it’s hard to find that pace and speed. Because you come out from behind, you compete and try to push or not to lose too much depending on the day, but I don’t know how to finish siphoning off the seventh position to be better positioned. It has been difficult, but we have to find a new strategy. Joan, Quintanilla, and I are in the same situation. One day we’re ahead and the next day we’ll lose a lot of time. But it’s complicated, because the navigation changes in difficulty like a roller coaster during the stage. The terrain, the classifications, the roadbook, everything is a roller coaster so far. It’s only day 3, but it would be nice to know where we really are in the standings”, Brabec said to Motorsport.com
ASO In Trouble Over Contaminated Fuel
In the meantime, the ASO has announced they will change procedures when it comes to refueling. Andrew Short, a US rider, had to withdraw from the race two days ago because the engine of his bike had stopped. After trying to fix the problem himself, Short had to accept the organization’s help and retire from the rally; however, when his bike was brought back to the bivouac, his mechanics found two liters of water in his fuel tank, and Yamaha filed a complaint with the FIM to have the Stage 2 canceled at 267km where Short’s bike failed. The ASO has admitted that the fuel was contaminated, and several other bike and SSV riders found water in their tanks, too, but the organization says they will not cancel the stage, and Short’s retirement is final.
Race director David Castera said: “Yesterday we had a small problem with a gasoline supply. It seems that there was water in the tank. It is a huge tank of 30,000 liters. I do not understand because we have a very well-developed procedure, and yet this has happened. Everything has been complicated a little by the retirement of Andrew Short, who did not know what was happening with his bike. If you take out the water, your bike works, and you contnue the race. His engine didn’t break down, it just stopped. Others have had water but in such small quantities that it hasn’t affected the behavior of the bike. We are looking at changing the procedure of the gas system so that it doesn’t happen anymore.” However, it seems the problem still persists, as several competitors still found water in their tanks after yesterday’s stage.
Tomorrow’s stage from Riyadh to Al Qaisumah will have a short, 205km liaison and a 456 special across a large dune section and rocky trails, so any mistakes – or contaminated fuel – can be extremely costly for riders.
Today’s stage rankings:
(ESP) JOAN BARREDA BORT
|MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||02H 46′ 50”|
(BWA) ROSS BRANCH
|MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||02H 52′ 47”|
(AUS) DANIEL SANDERS
|KTM FACTORY TEAM||02H 52′ 59”|
(ARG) LUCIANO BENAVIDES
|ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||02H 53′ 12”|
(FRA) XAVIER DE SOULTRAIT
|HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||02H 54′ 09”|
(PRT) JOAQUIM RODRIGUES
|HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||02H 54′ 11”|
|7||4||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||02H 54′ 19”|
(CHL) PABLO QUINTANILLA
|ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||02H 54′ 24”|
(SVK) STEFAN SVITKO
|SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||02H 55′ 36”|
(FRA) ADRIEN VAN BEVEREN
|MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||02H 56′ 12”|
(CZE) JAN BRABEC
|STROJRENT RACING||02H 57′ 15”|
(GBR) SAM SUNDERLAND
|RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||02H 57′ 23”|
(ESP) LORENZO SANTOLINO
|SHERCO FACTORY||02H 58′ 03”|
(ARG) KEVIN BENAVIDES
|MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||02H 58′ 28”|
(ARG) FRANCO CAIMI
|MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||02H 58′ 39”|
(GBR) JAMIE MCCANNEY
|MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||02H 59′ 12”|
(ESP) JOAN PEDRERO GARCIA
|FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||02H 59′ 14”|
(USA) RICKY BRABEC
|MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||02H 59′ 43”|
(CZE) MARTIN MICHEK
|ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||02H 59′ 49”|
(USA) SKYLER HOWES
|BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||03H 00′ 03”|
Featured image: Dakar.com