Dakar Stage 4 proved unfavourable for local racers
The first three days of the Dakar proved to be a tough start for many drivers and an early end for a few of the motorcycle riders. The rocks proved to be an issue for tyre longevity, while navigation also proved tough. Day 4 brought with it a sense of excitement, as the lack of rocks allowed for better driver confidence.
During the fourth stage, which covered 631km of mostly manageable terrain, Sebastien Loeb demonstrated his capability of setting a fast pace if his car was in good running order and his navigation was precise, finishing on the top step at the end of the stage.
Continuing to climb up the leaderboard with each stage result, Carlos Sainz Sr.'s consistent performance is evident as he finished 4th at the end of the day and maintained his overall standing in second. The local Saudi driver, Yazeed Al Rajhi, continues to dominate, finishing second on the stage, 4 minutes and 29 seconds behind Sebastien Loeb, and maintaining his overall lead.
Unfortunately, Stage 4 proved to be a tough challenge for our local boys. Our fastest local driver, Guy David Botterill, paired with Brett Cummings, finished 16th, with Giniel De Villiers and navigator Dennis Murphy following them in 19th.
Furthermore, the stage turned detrimental for young Toyota Gazoo Racing SA racer Saood Variawa, who suffered mechanical issues from the start line, resulting in limited power. His luck worsened with a puncture 50 kilometres into the stage, significantly affecting his time and forcing a 106th-place finish at the end of the fourth stage.
The stage results are as follows:
- 203, Sebastien Loeb, Bahrain raid Xtreme
- 201, Yazeed Al Rajhi, Overdrive Racing
- 200, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Nasser Racing
- 204, Carlos Sainz, Team Audi Sport
- 202, Stephane Peterhansel, Team Audi Sport
- 212, Mathieu Serradori, Century Racing Factory Team
- 221, Guillaume De Mevius, Overdrive Racing
- 214, Vaidotas Zala, X-Raid Arijus Team
- 222, Simon Vitse, MD Rallye Sport
- 208, Martin Prokop, Orlen Jipocar Team
For those who prefer machines of the two-wheel variety, there's a South African battling the dunes on his own with his KTM 450 Rally Replica. Bradley Cox, who races for the BAS World KTM Racing Team, is off to a rather encouraging start, currently holding the 21st position after the opening stages.
As the drivers head off to tackle the 645km Stage 5, we hope for better luck for Saood and trust that our guys will keep their right foot buried deep in the carpet. Although it is still in its early stages, Dakar 2024 has already proved to be a thrilling spectacle.