THE GIANT SLALOM: The last bit of the run to Copiapo is down a giant dune, the highest of the Dakar, and Leeroy Poulter (above) was stuck twice. Image: Toyota SA / Marc Bow
COPIAPO, Chile - Wednesday (Jan 7 2015) was a day of big moves on the Dakar as the entire race relocated to Chile by traversing the spectacular Andes mountains before the start of the stage and Toyota Imperial SA's fleet-footed Leeroy Poulter/Rob Howie improved from 21st overall after Stage 3 to 14th here in Copiapo.
He and Giniel de Villiers are each driving a South African-built Hilux bakkie on the Dakar.
Wednesday's Stage 4 saw the teams complete a monster liaison of 594km from the Argentine town of Chilecito, across the Chilean border and down from more than 4600m to the mining town of Copiapo.
'IT WAS A GREAT STAGE!'
While the town itself may be more famous for the miners epically rescued there in 2010 with South African help to motorsport fans the world over it is synonymous with the giant dune that crews must descend from the Andes and almost straight into the bivouac.
Poulter said after completing the 315km special: "It was a great stage. We were fastest through the first couple of checkpoints but then the big dunes started. We were stuck twice near the end but still managed ninth-fastest on the day."
For Poulter/Howie it was a day of recovery after they lost nearly an hour on Stage 3. Still, the pair battled on and called on their so-called 'joker' which allows them to improve their start time once during the event. As such they pulled away 19th on the road, despite recording only the 40th-fastest time on Stage 3.
This allowed them to work their way through the field, reclaiming nine positions in the process.
TERRANOVA OUT AFTER HITTING ROCK
SA team boss Glyn Hall said after the stage: "We're very pleased with Leeroy and Rob's progress. They've shown patience and maturity on this event so far and I firmly believe it will pay off in the long run.
"Giniel (de Villiers) and Dirk (von Zitzewitz in the lead Toyota Hilux) meanwhile did exactly what we expected of them."
They posted another great stage time, despite having to open most of the route after the demise of Mini driver Orlando Terranova. The Argentine driver, who won Stage 3 of the event, lost a mass of time after a rock took out the rear suspension of his race vehicle.
The SA Hilux pair completed the stage third, behind leader Nasser al-Attiyah (Mini) and Nani Roma (Mini), losing 2min57 to the overall leader al-Attiyah in the process. This places them 8min15 behind the leader in the overall standings with Saudi debutant Yazeed Alrajhi (another Hilux) more than 15 minutes behind them in third.
De Villiers said from the bivouac at Copiapo: "We had another good stage today and we've just got to stay focused. The Hilux ran like clockwork and we're looking forward to another Chilean stage tomorrow (Jan 8, Stage 5)."
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.
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.
ALL PART OF THE ODYSSEY
Stage 5 will start near Copiapo and sees the crews end the day in a bivouac at Antofagasta. In between lie 174km of road section followed by 458km of special before a 65km liaison to the bivouac.
The ultra-fine fesh-fesh dust is sure to play a role on the stage but that is all part of the odyssey that is Dakar 2015.
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
Overall1 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
Watch the video report on Stage 4 on January 7.
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