MUDDIED WATERS: Toyota driver Bernhard Ten Brinke of The Netherlands and co-pilot Tom Colsoul of Belgium take a wet ride, to the smiles of spectators. Image>: AP / Felipe Dana
COPIAPO, Chile - After spending most of Wednesday’ stage of the 2015 Dakar hot on the heels of biker Marc Coma, Joan Barreda turned on the afterburners to overtake his closest rival in the final kilometres and clinch his second stage win this year.Even more importantly, the HRC rider holds a sizeable lead after only four days of racing – and it was much of the same for Nasser al-Attiyah, who also made it two this year after a close-fought battle and expanded his lead.
Barreda had a comfortable buffer in the general classification in Chilecito this morning but it certainly did not dampen his appetite. The presence of Coma, a fast veteran, in his sights put the Spaniard in the ideal position to set a blistering pace and put time into the rest of the field.
GONCALVES FADING AWAY
With Barreda's fighting spirit, merely shadowing his KTM rival was never an option, and a late surge was enough to earn him a second stage win in the 2015 edition and deal Coma a severe blow. However, the four-times Dakar winner knows there is still lots of racing left and is set to fight back from the very next stage.
Paulo Gonçalves faded on Wednesday to concede a quarter of an hour, seemingly unable to compete with his team mate, just like Ruben Faria, who lost 11 minutes on Wednesday and now lies 23 minutes back in the general classification.
Jordi Viladoms, fourth in today's stage, also lost more than 10 minutes and now sits in fifth overall, whereas Pablo Quintanilla signed an amazing performance as the Dakar came to his homeland in Chile and climbed up to sixth in the general classification.
Rookie Matthias Walkner was the big loser of the day, conceding 23 minutes and falling off the provisional podium, Laia Sanz, on the other hand, had good reason to be cheerful after finishing an excellent eighth.
He'd been second. He'd been fourth. He'd been third. Winning a stage was all Rafal Sonik needed to cap an amazing start to the 2015 Dakar. The Pole, who started the stage in the overall lead, claimed one of his finest victories in Copiapo and expanded his lead after a stunning performance.
Ignacio Casale, the only rider who came anywhere close, conceded 3min26. Mohammed Abu-Issa finished Wednesday's stage more than 13 minutes behind the winner.
Nasser al-Attiyah spent the entire stage in the leading group, only to make the difference on the last dunes of Wednesday’s special in true champion style. The Qatari is having a fantastic start to the Dakar and seems to be in his element whatever the terrain.
Like a good omen, it was none other than his team mate and 2014 winner Nani Roma who broke his streak of bad luck to finish second, 2min40 back. The Spaniard is no longer a general-classification threat, unlike Giniel de Villiers, whose consistency at the wheel of a Toyota Hilux since the start in Buenos Aires has kept him within striking distance of the official Mini driver.The South African, eight minutes down on the leader, is the only driver close enough to unsettle al-Attiyah. Behind him lies the surprising Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who once again charged full steam ahead to put himself on course for a podium spot at the end of his first Dakar.
Stéphane Peterhansel held the lead at CP5 but let victory slip away after jumping more than two metres high and bursting a tyre on re-contact with Mother Earth. However, he proved Peugeot was still competitive by finishing 5min48 behind the winner.
Team mate Carlos Sainz was not as lucky. Forced to stop for several hours due to a mechanical problem a mere 30km into the special, he no longer is in a position to challenge for the overall win.
Orlando Terranova, who started Wednesday’s stage third, also saw his dreams go up in smoke after having to stop at kilometres 52 of a stage which put paid to the plans of several favourites. Robby Gordon also lost over an hour between Chilecito and Copiapo.
THE TRUCKSHe triumphed by a hair's width against Kamaz team mate Eduard Nikolaev, who was only three seconds slower.
In the truck category, Andrey Karginov took his first stage win in the 2015 edition, a welcome boost to his title defence bid.
Ayrat Mardeev, third on Wednesday, still leads a general classification dominated by the Kamaz 1-2-3.
OTHER SA ENTRIES
South Africa's Nissan Prodakar team, Johan van Staden and Mark Lawrenson, moved up the leader board on Wednesday to 34th overall, despite finishing the stage 43rd.
Leading South African biker Riaan van Niekerk had his best finish in 15th on the stage but dropped one spot to 16th overall and South African quad rider Willem Saaijman moved into the top 20, finishing the stage 22nd but climbing two spots to 19th overall.
The off-road endurance race runs through Argentina, Chile and Bolivia and will finish back at the start in Buenos Aires on January 17.
Stay with Wheels24 for daily coverage of the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Watch the video report on Stage 4 on January 7.
Stage 4 - Car/Bike - Stage Summary - (Chilecito... by Dakar
Dakar Rally results on Wednesday after the fourth stage from Chilecito in Argentina to Copiapo in Chile (909km stage/315km timed)
1 Nasser al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Mini) 3hr09min18
2 Nani Roma/Michel Prin (ESP/FRA/Mini) +2min40
3 Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) +2min57
4 Yazeed Alrajhi/Timo Gttschalk (KSA/GER/Toyota) +3min25
5 Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) +5min48
6 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) +6min10
7 Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot (FRA/FRA/Smg) +11min23
8 Christian Lavieille/Pascal Maimon (FRA/FRA/Toyota) +17min06
9 Erik Van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NED/NED/Mini) +17min31
10 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (POL/FRA/Mini) +18min06
1 Nassera al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (QAT/FRA/Mini) +12hr30min44
2 Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Toyota) +8min15
3 Yazeed Alrajhi/Timo Gttschalk (KSA/GER/Toyota) +23min33
4 Bernhard Ten Brinke/Tom Colsoul (NED/BEL/Toyota) +42min32
5 Krzysztof Holowczyc/Xavier Panseri (POL/FRA/Mini) +43min30
6 Erik Van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NED/NED/Mini) +45min14
7 Christian Lavieille/Pascal Maimon (FRA/FRA/Toyota) +1hr00min44
8 Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Anton Nikolaev (KAZ/RUS/Mini) +1hr04min23
9 Ronan Chabot/Gilles Pillot (FRA/FRA/Smg) +1hr11min30
10 Stephane Peterhansel/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA/FRA/Peugeot) +1hr18min37
1 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Honda) 3hr27min28
2 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) +1min59
3 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) +2min49
4 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +10min44
5 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) 10min55
6 Javier Pizzolito (ARG/Honda) +11min29
7 Alain Duclos (FRA/Sherco Tvs) +12min51
8 Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) +13min48
9 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +13min51
10 Michael Metge (FRA/Yamaha) +14min32
1 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Honda) +13hr10min33
2 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) +12min49
3 Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) +20min29
4 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +23min05
5 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +24min51
6 Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/KTM) +30min42
7 Toby Price (AUS/KTM) +32min05
8 Matthias Walkner (AUT/KTM) +33min28
9 Alain Duclos (FRA/Sherco Tvs) +36min31
10 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) +39min0