Dakar Stage 4: Arequipa – Moquegua

218 mile (351km) special, 34 mile (54km) neutralisation, 53 miles (85km) on road

STAGE 4 was the first of the two-day marathon stage, in which riders are not allowed external assistance, fresh tyres or spare parts.

The 218 miles of special was split into two, with a 34 mile ‘neutralisation’ in between. The terrain was soft, alternating between powdery Fesh and hard-packed rocks. It was in one of these rocky ravines that 2017 winner Sam Sunderland came unstuck. The 29-year-old brit lost momentum coming up a slope and dropped his KTM. Luckily no serious damage was done, and Sunderland still achieved a fifth place stage finish, 13m 35s behind stage winner Ricky Brabec’s 3h 40m 30s.

Sunderland’s KTM teammate and 2018 winner Matthais Walkner took second spot, 6m 19s behind Brabec, while Toby Price brought another KTM to the podium 7m 7s behind Brabec.

In fourth, Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren was 13m and 29s off the pace.

And as would be expected, some were taking it easy, with Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides back in ninth, almost 16 minutes behind stage winner.

As the general classification stood yesterday evening, Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec was leading the bikes, with a total time of 12h 33m, while Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla sits in second, 2m 19s behind, despite finishing yesterday 20 minutes off the pace in 14th.

Price and Sunderland occupy third and fourth spots, with respective times of +4m 22s and +7m 45s (Sunderland received a 2 minute penalty), while Van Beveren is in fifth, almost nine minutes off the pace. Then there’s Benavides and Walkner with just half a minute between them, before the pace drops significantly with Honda’s Paulo Goncalves and Yamaha’s Xavier De Soultrait both more than 20 minutes behind.

Britain’s Max Hunt was the first Malle Moto rider to finish and sits in 48th on the stage and 37th overall.

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