2017 Dakar Rally - day 4: Stage win and overall lead for Cyril Despres
Cyril Despres is the fourth stage winner in four days of the 2017 Dakar Rally. The Frenchman in the #307 Peugeot 3008 DKR was the fastest on the 416-km long timed section between San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina and Tupiza in Bolivia. Despres is also the new overall leader after four days, jumping into the lead from the seventh place at the beginning of the day.
The fourth day was full of drama, mostly with Peugeot drivers in main roles. Despres avoided all the problems but his teammates suffered from navigational mistakes, technical difficulties and unpredictable dunes. Stephane Peterhansel finished fifteen minutes behind Despres, Sebastien Loeb was 22 minutes late.
Carlos Sainz was on the way to take the overall lead, being only seven minutes behind Despres on the penultimate check-point. But, close to the finish, Sainz has been stuck in a ravine and he lost more than two hours. He received a help to reach the finish but withdrew from the event after that.
Sainz’s problems promoted X-Raid’s Mikko Hirvonen to the second place on Stage 4. He crossed the finish line 10.51 minutes behind Despres. The third fastest driver today was Nani Roma, two minutes slower than Hirvonen.
In the overall classification, Peterhansel is 4 minutes 8 seconds behind Despres. Hirvonen progressed to the third place (5.04 minutes), Loeb dropped to fourth place (6.48 minutes). Nani Roma (10.30 minutes) completes the Top 5. Sainz dropped to 12th place overall.
Today’s stage started without two-time Dakar winner and one of the front-runners Nasser Al-Attiyah. He reached a bivouac after losing more than two hours in yesterday’s accident when he ripped a rear wheel, but his Toyota Hilux Evo was damaged too much to start today. The sixth-placed driver in the overall standings Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Mini) also dropped out from the race today. He was running in the 17th place, one hour behind Despres, but after he crossed a Bolivian border, he has informed the race organisers that he is withdrawing from the rally.
Another major victim of the 2017 Dakar Rally is last year’s winner in the motorcycle category Toby Price. He felt heavily few kilometers before Tupiza and suffered fractured tigh bone in his left leg. Price was transported to a hospital and his Dakar adventure is over.
The tomorrow’s stage 5, between Tupiza and Oruro, is 692 kilometers long. The timed section would be the longest so far, with 447 kilometers over the dunes and other types of terrain on the altitude over 3500 meters.
Photos: Red Bull,