As the Dakar progressed into Stage 4, the mighty dunes gave way to rocky terrain, open plateau and big valleys. Also, at this stage, the participants had to traverse through fesh-fesh – very fine, powdery-type substance which has quicksand-like properties and can hinder vision and trap vital parts of the vehicle. The 664km stage ran from Arequipa to Moquegua which included 310kilometre of Special stage, 257 of road section and a free final straight of 200km between the port of Ilo and Moquegua. Al-Attiyah came up on top with a stage time of 03:38:49 seconds.
The Kuwaiti driver was fastest across the 406 km timed special (the longest of the season) and has extended his overall lead by 8 minutes and 55 seconds. Starting the stage after winning Stage 3, Stephane Peterhansel secured second place, driving his X-Raid Mini JCW across the line in 3:40:41 seconds.
Retaining his position on third place – as he did in the previous stage – Jakub Przygonski managed a time of 3:47:21 seconds. Sebastien Loeb finished fifth (3:51:12 seconds) behind X-Raid’s Nani Roma (3:47:21 seconds). Meanwhile, Dakar Legend Carlos Sainz – after a miserable Stage 3 – bagged the seventh position just 24 minutes and 44 seconds adrift the stage leader.
Al-Attiyah has now strengthened his leadership of the general standings ahead of 53-year-old Peterhansel lagged behind by mere 8 minutes and 55 seconds. Driving 4x4 Mini, Nani Roma and Jakub Przygonski have moved up a position to third and fourth place on the leaderboard, respectively, trailed by Yazeed Al Rajhi in fifth.
Peugeot privateer Loeb has gained two positions and is currently sixth with 50 minutes and 22 seconds behind Al-Attiyah. The time gap after for the seventh position is significant as Dakar rookie, Aron Domzala, is running in the seventh position overall, an hour and 28 minutes behind the leader.
The fourth stage also marked the start of Dakar’s ‘marathon’ leg. In this stage, the participants were forbidden any technical support or external support. The crew would only join them at Arequipa the day after.
The situation in the special stage got tricky for Sebastien Loeb as he had suffered three punctures prior to it. So the French rally veteran ran the special between Arequipa and Tacna with a defective wheel after having already used his two spares. On the other hand, South African Giniel De Villiers ran into trouble with his engine mounting, just 60km into the stage. Toyota’s Bernhard Brinke was stranded too, so he turned to aid his teammates in the marathon stage instead.