San Juan De Marcona: Navigating a tough stage involving hidden way points and a difficult terrain, Hero MotoSports Team Rally riders CS Santosh overcame a crash to gain over 40 places while Oriol Mena was ranked 24th overall in the Dakar Rally.
British motorcyclist Sam Sunderland abandoned his Dakar Rally title defense on Tuesday due to back pain, and Portuguese football coach Andre Villas-Boas was taken to a hospital after his car crashed against a sand dune.
Rally organizers said Sunderland, the overall leader on a KTM, withdrew near the end of the 330-kilometer (205-mile) special around San Juan de Marcona when he was hurt after a jump.
The fourth stage of the rally camped itself in San Juan De Marcona for one more day of dunes and navigation.
It turned out to be a tough stage for the competitors with hidden way points and difficult terrain.
Hero MotoSports Team Rally's debutant Oriol Mena continued his fine form of yesterday to begin the stage well but lost some time in finding a way point in the later part of the stage. He finished the stage at 33 position, which placed him at 24 position in the overall rankings.
CS Santosh came out with purpose and rode hard to cover a lot of positions despite a nasty crash in the second half of the stage. He gained over 40 positions on his overnight ranking of 98, to finish the stage and overall at 56th place.
The stage offered a changed landscape and a different kind of start to break the mould. It started on the beach front in a mass start format with 15 bikes per set.
After this sprint along the beach, the competitors were challenged to tackle one of the longest sandy section ever in the history of the Dakar — a total of 100 kms with dunes of all sizes making up a total stage run of 444 km including the special stage of 330 km.
The next stage will see the rally moving to Arequipa where competitors will tackle the sands of Tanaka and a 30 or so km of mountain dune sections making up the longest stage yet, with 774 km to be covered including the liaison.
Oriol Mena said, "It was a tough stage. I lost out on one waypoint and lost nearly 20 min to find that. Finally I am here back at the bivouac which is important thing and tomorrow will be another day."
Santosh said, "Today we started the stage on the beach. I knew it was going to be a tough day because I was starting with a lot of riders in front of me. I tried to push myself hard and did all I could and so I managed to cross a lot of riders.
"Dune section was really long and difficult but I managed that well. Towards the end I had a massive crash because of a rock hidden inside fesh-fesh, but I am okay and the bike is okay so we live to fight another day.
Adrien van Beveren of France won the fourth stage in about four hours. He also moved into the overall lead, taking a 1:55 advantage over Pablo Quintanilla of Chile.
In the car race, the 40-year-old Villas-Boas was in 43rd position for team Toyota at the time of his accident. There was no word on whether the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham coach was staying in the competition.
Another Frenchman, Sebastien Loeb, won the car stage after dueling with defending champion and Peugeot teammate Stephane Peterhansel.
Loeb and Peterhansel swapped checkpoint leads. Loeb finally led through the fourth and last checkpoint while Peterhansel, whose overall lead wasn't in trouble, stopped to change a tire hanging off the rim.
Loeb beat Carlos Sainz by 95 seconds, followed by Peterhansel for a Peugeot sweep of the podium.
Peterhansel leads overall by 6:55 over Loeb.
The former champions who started the day second and third overall dropped out of title contention.
Cyril Despres, the five-time champion on a bike who was lying second in a car, had a broken rear wheel after hitting a rock at about 180 kilometers, and his rally appeared over. Nasser Al-Attiyah, the two-time champion who won stages one and three, became stuck in sand three times and fell almost an hour off the pace.
Also, Nani Roma, a winner in the car and bike categories, didn't start the stage after crashing at the end of the third on Monday. He was airlifted to a Lima hospital with head and neck injuries. His X-Raid team said he suffered no fractures.
With inputs from AP and PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 10, 2018 17:49:12 IST