Husqvarna Rally Team by Speedbrain’s Joan Barreda recovered from a disappointing Stage 3 result to take the win in Stage 4 and move up to fourth overall. Yamaha’s Oliver Pain trailed the Spanish rider by over eight minutes to take second in the stage, but his performance was enough to bump him to the top of the overall leaderboard. Pain’s teammate David Casteu came across third-fastest through Stage 4 and now sits in second-place overall. Riders encountered nearly every obstacle imaginable during the special section including more dunes, rocky, hard-packed soil, tarmac and drastic elevation changes. One feature in particular was included for its difficulty; a two-kilometer downhill slide during the first third of the special section.
Barreda started from 24th and had more than 20 minutes to recover thanks to a broken rear wheel which slowed him considerably in Stage 3. He rode hard through Stage 4, one of the most difficult to-date, travelling from Nazca to Arequipa, but his journey was not entirely free of trouble. His electronic road book had broken, forcing him to advance the map manually.
“I really rode well today. I’m very pleased. I knew it would be a tough one today, so I wanted to push hard. My starting place in twenty-fourth didn’t really favour it especially with the first 20 kms of dust. What’s more, I had the electronic road book broken and I had to move it forward manually throughout the whole stage. I did a perfect stage!”
Pain’s strategy has been to maintain a personal, comfortable pace rather than pushing for stage wins, a tactic that has allowed him to steadily improve his overall standing through the four stages. He’s not afraid to take some risks though since it was a move off track in Stage 4 that allowed him to make up a substantial amount of time and gain the overall lead.
“I strayed a bit off track and, being behind the rest of the bikes at the top of the valley, I was able to take the shortest route and make up a lot of time,” said Pain. “I’ve been riding at my pace from the beginning, with no pressure, just to have fun, and doing my best not to fall because the rally’s just begun. I don’t want to get overexcited about my place in the overall, the rally’s still long and my objective is to finish in the Top 10 every day, and I hope to continue doing this well until the end.
Defending Dakar champion Cyril Despres of KTM has a similar strategy as Pain and rode his own pace, even though it meant finishing Stage 4 in 15th. Despres remains well within sight of the overall lead, sitting just three minutes behind Pain. The KTM rider’s experience in the Dakar also influenced his pace, driving him to avoid some of the pitfalls of riding in clouds of dust and pushing the bike too hard.
“It’s not the first time this happens,” said Despres. “But don’t worry about me, I’m racing my way. I’ve been riding at a high pace for three days, but not flat out, which helps me to save energy and avoid pushing the motorcycle to the limit. When you start at the back and go like crazy all day long, you ride in the dust, so if you later have mechanical problems, it won’t be down to just bad luck… The rally’s still long and I ride at my pace!”
Team HRC enjoyed its best stage result in the competition so far, with Helder Rodrigues finishing fifth and moving up to 16th overall behind his teammate Javier Pizzolito, who took seventh in Stage 4 and moved to 15th.
“I’m pleased with today’s stage,” said Rodrigues. “My bike worked well and I was able to gain valuable positions and close the gap with the front riders a little. I started 23rd and there was a lot of dust and fech fech at the beginning but then I started to push and I’m happy with the result. Tomorrow I aim to continue like this and climb some more positions in the overall standing. Dakar is a special race and many unforeseen events may happen, so it’s important to maintain the concentration and avoid mistakes, especially in the navigation.”
American rider Kurt Caselli lost a bit of ground in Stage 4, finishing in 17th for the stage and moving to 20th overall. Chaleco Lopez, winner of Stage 1 and 3, trailed Caselli in 18th and moved from second overall to eighth.
In Stage 5, riders will move into Chile as they travel from Arequipa to Arica and will face more rocky terrain, water crossings and plenty of other challenges along the way.
2013 Dakar Rally Stage 4 Results
Nazca to Arequipa total distance 718 km – 429 km liaison and 289 km special
1. Joan Barreda, Spain (Husqvarna) 3:41:09
2. Oliver Pain, France (Yamaha) 3:49:32
3. David Casteu, France (Yamaha) 3:51:51
4. Gerard Farres Guell, Spain (Honda) 3:52:49
5. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal (Honda) 3:52:52
6. Ruben Faria, Portugal (KTM) 3:53:27
7. Javier Pizzolito, Argentina (Honda) 3:53:41
8. Jordi Viladoms, Spain (Husqvarna) 3:53:49
9. Jakub Przygonski, Poland (KTM) 3:55:10
10. Alain Duclos, France (Sherco) 3:55:20
2013 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 4
1. Oliver Pain (Yamaha) 10:10:38
2. David Casteu (Yamaha) 10:13:02
3. Cyril Despres (KTM) 10:13:47
4. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) 10:16:16
5. Jordi Viladoms (Husqvarna) 10:18:00
6. Ruben Faria (KTM) 10:19:17
7. Israel Esquerre (Honda) 10:19:43
8. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) 10:20:39
9. Alessandro Botturi (Husqvarna) 10:22:22
10. Jakub Przygonski (KTM) 10:24:58