Dakar Rally 2021
With the Stage Three win under his belt, joining his Stage One victory, Toby Price was given the unenviable task of opening the Dakar Rally’s longest stage for 2021, with the route from Wadi Ad-Dawasor to Riyadh covering 813 km in total, including a 337 km timed special.
Stage Four was expected to bring rough, sandy tracks and a less navigationally challenging day, meaning more speed and as a result a harsher punishment for mistakes.
The curse of opening the stage once again proved true, with Price looking good through the first two checkpoints, only to then make a navigation mistake and lose five-minutes. Price had been battling it out with Matthias Walkner on the time-sheets, with Stage Two winner Joan Barreda taking an early lead.
Daniel Sanders continued to prove the KTM Factory Team made the right choice, starting from eighth but breaking into the top five by the second check-point. That was a position he’d maintain for the day.
Another rider worthy of note was Ross Branch, starting 17th but through the second check-point in P2, a speed he’d also maintain through the majority of the remaining checkpoints.
Defending Dakar Champion Ricky Brabec meanwhile was sitting in 10th at km 218, prompting speculation he’s riding conservatively, with a manageable seven-minute gap to the leaders and less wear on his tyres.
As Stage Four came to a close it was Barreda fastest, holding an almost six-minute lead to Branch in second.
“Today was a very fast stage, just as we were expecting, with less navigation than in previous days. I went all out and by the time I reached refuelling I saw that I had Ricky close behind and Quintanilla in front, so I kept pressing. I didn’t really know what strategy to follow, but seeing as tomorrow will be a very difficult day because of the sand, we kept the pace high. The truth is that I am very happy and satisfied with another stage victory.”
Australian Daniel Sanders was just 12-seconds off Branch in third, marking another impressive effort for the Australian, however a one-minute penalty to Branch ended up handing Sanders second for the stage. Branch dropped to fourth as a result.
“Today went really well, I didn’t have any issues for the first 100km or so and was able to close in on the front pack of riders. I had a strong middle section, I just kept pushing and was able to correct a couple of mistakes that the guys out front made, so that put me up on time a little. When we hit the dunes, I did have one big crash and got stuck on one too, luckily both myself and the bike came out fine. Towards the end I was able to push on again and apart from one little mistake things went really well. I’m really happy with third and thankfully it means I don’t have to lead out tomorrow either.”
Completing the top five were Luciano Benavides, moving up to third to overtake Branch, and Xavier De Soultrait in fifth.
“It’s been a very long day today – over 800 kilometres on the bike and a very fast special to race through. Although the speeds were high, like last year’s race, the navigation was a lot more difficult and so you had to stay focused for the whole stage. I’m definitely happy with my pace and how I rode the stage, the bike has been great as well. Tomorrow I start up near the front and we’re being told that stage five is going to be very technical, so it will be a good test of my skills.”
“Today was a good day on the bike for me. I really liked the stage, very similar terrain to what I find back home so I was comfortable from the start. The stage was fast and flowing and I really liked it. Towards the end I made a small mistake and lost a little bit of time but managed to hold on to second place. I’m excited for tomorrow, it’s been a great rally for me so far.”
Sam Sunderland was 12th, while Brabec dropped outside the top ten and finished the day in 18th.
“We had an idea that today’s stage was going to be fast and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Rather than push too hard and risk a big mistake, I chose to keep a steady rhythm and just aim to get to the finish in one piece. I’m happy with how the stage has gone and the bike, as ever, has been flawless. Stage five is looking quite a challenge, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
“Today was one of the easier days with a lot of fast tracks. We started at the back so it was basically a free road for us. We don’t stand out in the results – that wasn’t the plan. We didn’t want to go out and win. Someone has got to put a stop to the yoyo effect that we’re having with KTM. I sacked up and I went slow today to try and get in with the rhythm of the main group. So far we are looking pretty good. We are starting tomorrow at the back with the KTM guys. Tomorrow, we’ll have a good push and hopefully get back to the front. Right now we are just 16 minute out of the lead. That’s nothing. It’s one day. Hopefully, tomorrow we can make up some time and go into the rest day in the top three. Today, I just wanted to sit back and get behind the curve. We are just flip-flopping and the results are changing every day. In order to manage the race, we’ve got to get behind and start fishing for them. We’ll attack tomorrow and see how things look on the rest day. It’s tough out there. We got turned around at one way point. But, in the end, if you look at the times, we are all really close. No stress. Just taking it easy today, to get behind everyone so that we can make up time tomorrow before the rest day.“
For Toby Price his gap to the leaders extended out to 14m42s, leaving him in 22nd for the day. Fellow Australian Michael Burgess finished 34th (+31m47s) and countryman Joseph Houlihan coming home in 70th.
“Yeah it wasn’t a bad stage for me – for sure it was a little easier than on previous days in terms of the navigation, but I managed to make a small mistake after the first checkpoint and was caught by the rider behind. After kilometre 80 we pretty much rode the rest of the stage together, trying to stay out of each other’s dust. I made a couple more small errors later on, which cost me a few minutes, but on the whole, it was a solid stage and I’m happy with the result.”
Price drops to eighth overall
Provisional overall rankings now show Soultrait holding the lead, just 15s ahead of Barreda. Third placed Kevin Benavides sits 3m24s off the current leader, with Branch another minute in arrears. Skyler Howes is only a further two-seconds adrift in fifth.
“Today was a very good stage for me, I started in second position and I pushed hard. I was able to catch up with Toby and we rode together until the end. The result was good because we have reduced the time from previous days. It has been a very difficult Dakar so far in terms of navigation, but for now I am very happy with the job we’ve done. We are in the fourth day and we will continue fighting every day.“
Toby Price sits eighth in the standings, losing about six-minutes and four positions compared to his standing after Stage Three, but still well within striking distance, particularly considering there was only two riders within six-minutes of him in Stage Three. The five-minutes lost due to a navigation mistake playing a large role.
Daniel Sanders is running in 14th after trimming just over two-and-a-half minutes off the leaders and moving up two positions compared to after Stage Three.
Fellow Australian Michael Burgess meanwhile moved into 37th and countryman Houlihan 67th.
Thursday’s Stage Five of the 2021 Rally takes riders from the country’s capital of Riyadh through to Al Qaisumah. Although shorter in total length than Stage Four at a total of 662km, the longer 456km special promises to be extremely technical, with tough navigation once again.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage Four Results (Updated)
|1||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:00:00=|
|2||D. SANDERS||AUS||KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:06:09▲|
|3||L. BENAVIDES||ARG||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||+00:06:22▲|
|4||R. BRANCH||BWA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:06:57▼|
|5||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||+00:07:19▲|
|6||J. RODRIGUES||PRT||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||+00:07:21▲|
|7||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:07:29▼|
|8||P. QUINTANILLA||CHL||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING||+00:07:34▲|
|9||S. SVITKO||SVK||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||+00:08:46▲|
|10||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:09:22▲|
|11||S. SUNDERLAND||GBR||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:10:33▲|
|12||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||+00:11:13▲|
|13||J. BRABEC||CZE||STROJRENT RACING||+00:11:25▲|
|14||K. BENAVIDES||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:11:38▼|
|15||F. CAIMI||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:11:49▲|
|16||J. MCCANNEY||GBR||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:12:22▲|
|17||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||FN SPEED – RIEJU TEAM||+00:12:24▲|
|18||R. BRABEC||USA||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:12:53▼|
|19||M. MICHEK||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||+00:12:59▼|
|20||S. HOWES||USA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||+00:13:13▲|
|21||J. BETRIU||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||+00:13:43▲|
|22||T. PRICE||AUS||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:14:42▼|
|23||M. WALKNER||AUT||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:16:42▲|
|24||S. BÜHLER||DEU||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||+00:17:19▼|
|25||L. SANZ||ESP||GAS GAS FACTORY TEAM||+00:17:48=|
|34||M. BURGESS||AUS||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||+00:31:47▼|
|70||AJ. HOULIHAN||AUS||NOMADAS ADVENTURE||+01:31:17▼|
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Standings – After Stage Four (Update)
|1||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HUSQVARNA||15:00:25||0:00:00|
|2||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||HONDA||15:00:40||+0:00:15|
|9||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||HONDA||15:08:31||+0:08:06|
|11||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||YAMAHA||15:10:09||+0:09:44|
|12||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||15:12:51||+0:12:26|
|22||J. PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||KTM||15:42:01||+0:41:36|
2021 Dakar Schedule
|Stage||Date||Start > Finish||Total||Special|
|P||Saturday, January 2, 2021||Jeddah > Jeddah||11 km||11 km|
|1||Sunday, January 3, 2021||Jeddah > Bisha||622 km||277 km|
|2||Monday, January 4, 2021||Bisha > Wadi Al Dawasir||685 km||457 km|
|3||Tuesday, January 5, 2021||Wadi Al Dawasir > Wadi Al Dawasir||630 km||403 km|
|4||Wednesday, January 6, 2021||Wadi Al Dawasir > Riyadh||813 km||337 km|
|5||Thursday, January 7, 2021||Riyadh > Buraydah||625 km||419 km|
|6||Friday, January 8, 2021||Buraydah > Ha’il||655 km||485 km|
|Rest||Saturday, January 9, 2021||Ha’il (Rest Day)||–||–|
|7||Sunday, January 10, 2021||Ha’il > Sakaka||737 km||471 km|
|8||Monday, January 11, 2021||Sakaka > Neom||709 km||375 km|
|9||Tuesday, January 12, 2021||Neom > Neom||579 km||465 km|
|10||Wednesday, January 13, 2021||Neom > Al-Ula||583 km||342 km|
|11||Thursday, January 14, 2021||Al-Ula > Yanbu||557 km||511 km|
|12||Friday, January 15, 2021||Yanbu > Jeddah||452 km||225 km|