Dakar 2024 – Stage 4 Highlights

DAY 5: Stage 4 – January 9, 2024 – Route: Al Salamiya > Al-Hofuf : Liaison 332km and Special 299km

– Birthday boy Kevin Benavides put together an impressive performance for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team as he piloted his bike to third place on Tuesday, so he could blow out the candles on his 35th birthday cake placed fourth overall – 20 minutes and 39 seconds behind Chilean leader Jose Ignacio Cornejo. The Argentine said: “The stage was really fast with lots of navigation, so I was really focused on my roadbook. At the refuelling I saw I had a big cut in my rear tyre, so that was a little bit scary. I took care of the problem and finally arrived to the finish.”

– Kevin’s brother Luciano lies sixth overall, 31 minutes 11 seconds back, after he finished sixth as he looks to build on his three stage wins from last year’s race, however Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Toby Price and Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders will be looking for a change in fortune tomorrow. Sanders, 29, said: “We struggled a lot with the navigation as well as staying on the pace. At the refuel I lost my rear fuel tank cap, so there was fuel leaking all over the back of my legs.”

– The Prodrive Hunter duo of Sébastien Loeb and reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah were the big Ultimate movers on Stage 4 as the convoy were faced with tricky navigation obstacles. Frenchman Loeb claimed his 24th Dakar stage win to move sixth overall as Qatari Al-Attiyah avoided his recent puncture problems to climb even higher into third. Nine-time WRC champion Loeb, 49, said: “We were a bit in the dust because we started far from the front and had to overtake a lot of cars. Except from this and going back to get one waypoint, it was a very good stage.”

– In the Challenger class, American Mitch Guthrie Jr. produced a storming stage display to keep pace with Polish leader Eryk Goczal only to be hit with a 17-minute time penalty for a combination of a missed waypoint and excessive speed. Despite that, the 27-year-old was bullish about his chances after finishing 36m 23s back overall in his Taurus T3 Max. He said: “It had a little bit of everything, but the main thing was full speed. The navigation section in the middle got us a little, but other than that a clean stage. So far we’re hitting our goal of good finishes every single day.”

– Wednesday’s Stage 5 sees an early start with a long liaison section of 527km before the timed special stage, which encompasses a 118km race among the towering dunes of the Empty Quarter desert.

2024 Dakar Rally overall standings after Stage 4

Ultimate Car
1. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) 15h 44m 39s
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP) +4m 29s
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) +11m 03s

Challenger Car
1. Eryk Goczal (POL) 17h 18m 25s
2. Marek Goczel (POL) +30m 55s
3. Mitch Guthrie Jrs. (USA) +36m 23s

1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHL) 17h 27m 13s
2. Ross Branch (BWA) +1m 15s
3. Ricky Brabec (USA) +4m 56s

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