Dakar 2014 – Stage 4: San Juan-Chilecito – Liaison: 210 km – Special: 353 km – Total: 563 km
Sherco’s Joan Pedrero wins Stage 4 – Ben Grabham Out
Classifications Stage 4
1 Joan Pedrero 05:29’13 ESP SHERCO Sherco Rally Factory
2 Chaleco López +00’29 CHI KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Marc Coma +03’10 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Jeremias Israel +06’30 CHL SPEEDBRAIN Team Speedbrain
5 Olivier Pain +07’01 FRA YAMAHA Yamaha Racing
6 Joan Barreda +13’56 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
7 Paulo Goncalves +18’38 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
8 Ivan Jakes +19’30 SLO KTM Nad Ress Adventure
9 Alain Duclos +23’10 FRA SHERCO Sherco Rally Factory
10 Daniel Gouet +24’38 CHI HONDA Tamarugal Honda Racing XC Rally Team
General standings after Stage 4
1 Joan Barreda 13:39’53 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Marc Coma +3’10 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Chaleco López +5’12 CHI KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Alain Duclos +25’25 FRA SHERCO Sherco Rally Factory
5 Olivier Pain +29’38 FRA YAMAHA Yamaha Racing
6 Cyril Despres +41’17 FRA YAMAHA Yamaha Racing
7 David Casteu +42’17 FRA KTM Team Casteu
8 Jeremias Israel +46’33 CHL SPEEDBRAIN Team Speedbrain
9 Jordi Viladoms +49’14 ESP GAS GAS Gas Gas JVO Team
10 Kuba Przygonski +54’52 POL KTM KTM Rally Factory
Fourth stage of the Rally Dakar 2014 and a tricky day for the TEAM HRC riders who fought hard to finish in favourable positions ahead of tomorrow’s stage. Above all for Joan Barreda, who was able to overcome some complicated setbacks to finish in sixth position, but retains the overall standings.
Joan Barreda continues at the head of the leader-board in the Rally Dakar 2014, albeit by a lesser margin after momentarily losing his way and conceding several minutes to his rivals before getting back onto the right route. The Spanish rider from Castellón continues to shine on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, registering another fine performance from the outset, that saw him crossing the Chilecito finish-line sixth on the day.
The fourth stage started with a two-hour delay due to the difficulties inflicted upon the riders in the grueling outing of the previous day. Many bikes had lost their way, struggling to find the correct route until late into the night. Today’s second marathon leg to Chilecito, in the Argentine La Rioja region, similar to that of the previous day, was a mountainous affair with a lot of hard ground and rocks.
Paulo Gonçalves was able to claw back several places, after having got lost on the previous excursion, and thus being forced to start from a long way back in today’s race. He finished in seventh position. Fellow Portuguese Hélder Rodrigues lost time to his opponents too, coming in ninth. Sam Sunderland suffered some problems during the liaison, where his engine stopped which forced him to drop out. The team is looking into what happened.
Laia Sanz, the female rider being supported by Honda on the pre-production version of the Honda CRF450 Rally, once again put in a fine performance today, with a repeat of yesterday’s twenty-first position. Her team-mate from the Honda Argentina Rally Team, Pablo Rodriguez finished twenty-third.
Paulo Goncalves: “I am very disappointed, as I lost the chance for a top position yesterday with a small mistake going down from the top of the 4,300 m mountain. Taking a steep downhill, I realised this was not the right path, but it was impossible to return up. I continued going downhill and found Ruben Faria on the ground after a crash. I called the helicopter and waited until he got evacuated. Meanwhile, a group of other riders arrived, also on the wrong way, and together we worked our way through the wilderness, but we lost over two hours. Today, I recovered even with the handicap of a broken roadbook reader to finish seventh. Now I will do everything to help my teammate Joan defend his overall lead.”
Red Bull KTM Factory riders Chaleco Lopez of Chile and Spain’s Marc Coma had a good day out in Stage 4 of the Dakar 2014, finishing 2-3 in the stage. Coma has moved up to second overall and trails by only 3 minutes 10 and Lopez is in third overall, 5.12 behind the leader.
As predicted, the second half of the first marathon stage was a matter of survival as riders nursed their bikes home after no mechanical assistance and no fresh tires overnight.
Lopez had a great day, finishing only 29 seconds behind the stage winner, Joan Pedrero. Coma, who is bidding for his fourth Dakar title, trimmed the gap to overall leader, Barreda of Spain, to just 3 minutes 10 seconds.
Lopez commented briefly at the end of his stage: ‘Stone, river, stone – a very technical route but my tires were good enough”. Coma also said it was “a long and tough day”.
Factory teammate Jordi Viladoms was eleventh on Wednesday and is ninth in the overall standings some 40 minutes 14 behind the leader. The fourth team member, Ruben Faria of Portugal crashed in Tuesday’s stage and is out of the race.
KTM Factory Team Manager Alex Doringer was a happy man after Stage Four: “The bike and our riders did a fantastic job. Both days of the marathon were very intense. Marc and Chaleco did a fantastic marathon,” he commented. The factory riders are competing on the brand new KTM 450 RALLY bike.
KTM-supported rider Kuba Przygonski of Poland is currently overall tenth and Riaan van Niekerk of South Africa is twenty-second after a long day. He lost two hours in the stage through navigational issues. Australia’s Ben Grabham crashed and is also out.
The marathon stage proved to be an early shakeout and while anything is possible in the Dakar, a handful of riders now seem to be in command of the overall standings. Only the top five are within half an hour of the leader and Coma and Lopez are well placed in this group.
Riders still have to face a second marathon stage after they enter Bolivia for the first time after Saturday’s rest day, and there are still the many kilometers of desert riding in Chile before they reach the finish in Valparaiso.
The stage took riders from San Juan to Chilecito over 210 km liaison and a timed special of 353 km for a total of 563 km. Navigation played an important part in the first part and above all, riders had to nurse their tires, already badly worn from the previous day, through the entire day.
They now have to tackle another very long timed special on Thursday. They face 527 km under the clock and the longest stage in terms of distance – 911 km – as they make their way from Chilecito to Tucuman. The timed special is in two parts and much of it is in the sand. Riders will also have to deal with high temperatures.
The Dakar has definitely moved up a gear in the last two days. Wednesday´s long and hilly special stage – part two of the first marathon stage – led through more difficult terrain. The start in the morning was delayed, then it became essential to remain concentrated and to nurse the bike and tyres over the distance.
The Speedbrain customer race team had its best day in the Dakar so far. Jeremias Israel Esquerre powered his Speedbrain 450 Rally bike in blazing speed through the field. On a day when navigation was once again criticial, the Chilean leapfrogged to eighth place in the overall standings. Isreal Esquerre finished the day in fourth. Juan Carlos Salvatierra also was on top of his game. The Bolivian improved to 23rd in the standings. Additionally, Pedro Oliviera und Paolo Ceci made up places.
Jeremias Israel Esquerre: “The last two days were very critical in terms of navigation. I felt confident already yesterday morning and step by step I found my rhythm. I moved forward and could salavage my tyres. Two small falls, but no damages. Once it became obvious that I was doing that well, I really excelled. Today´s result gives me a huge motivation. Here´s a big thanks to my team, the bike runs perfectly and has been perfectly prepared.”
Boy Olieslagers, Technical Manager: “It´s a major testimonial if you look at how well the bike coped with the extreme demands of the last two days, no real service and such. We did everything on the technical side to have the bikes run that flawlessly. All four riders reached the finish convincingly, that´s a great reward for the hard work.”
Tomorrow’s Stage – Stage 5 – Chilecito-Tucumán – Liaison: 384 km – Special: 527 km – Total: 911 km – A sleepless night in Tucumán!
After two race days with completely separate routes, everyone will gather together to tackle the longest stage of the rally. They will need to be extremely resistant to overcome these two sections of the special stage which will primarily feature sand. All day long the competitors will make headway on off-piste sections: those who have poorly assessed the limits of their engine will constantly be on the verge of overheating and all the more so, as the region’s temperatures are generally very high. At the bivouac in Tucuman, the candidates for the podium will have been whittled down to a select few, as many of them will no longer be a part of this elite group. For many others, their timing and mechanical mishaps will only become apparent in the middle of the night.