As part of the first marathon stage of this year’s Dakar, Stage 4 challenged riders with difficult sandy and rocky terrain in the upper elevations of Argentina while also forcing them to strive as best as possible to keep their machines and bodies in top working order. There are no mechanics or support team assistance available between Stage 4 and Stage 5, meaning there’s a definite advantage to the riders able to ride clean through the two days.
Team HRC shined again, as Joan Barreda crossed the line with the fastest time for the second day in a row. He also repeated his mistake of speeding in a link section, resulting in a five minute penalty and dropping him to fourth for the stage. Barreda’s repeated mistakes in this regard proved a boon to his teammate, Paulo Goncalves, who moved to the top of the timesheet for Stage 4 and in the overall classification. Rockstar Husqvarna’s Ruben Faria finshed Stage 4 in second position followed by Dakar rookie and Honda pilot Kevin Benavides in third. Benavides sits second overall after the stage followed by Barreda in third.
Much like the previous day, Barreda started a few positions behind the road-openers, this time KTM’s Stefan Svitko and Benavides, but by CP1 the Spaniard was clearly fastest of the bunch. Goncalves was holding close to Barreda’s pace as well while Benavides kept within reach in third position. The trio remained in the top-three through subsequent checkpoints, joined by Faria during the latter stages.
“It was my first marathon stage with a fast opening day,” said Goncalves to Dakar reporters after the day’s end. “I rode near Benavides before the refueling stop, but I then made a slight mistake inside the controlled speed area and I lost some time. I attacked to close the gap and, in the end, I wasn’t that far behind. It was a good day, bringing the bike home in one piece was crucial. I’m happy for me and Honda.”
“I opened the road for the first time at the Dakar,” explained Benavides. “I was a tad nervous and didn’t want to make any mistakes. I kept my eyes on the road book. I think I did all right. I found all the tracks and managed to set a high pace. Paulo [Gonçalves] joined me and we finished together. The stage was fast, varied, stimulating and quite technical. I used a straightforward tactic: keeping my body and my bike in good shape because there won’t be any assistance tonight.”
KTM’s Toby Price regained some ground with a fifth-place finish in the stage, bumping up to seventh overall after a difficult Stage 3. Price had some navigational issues and problems with people and animals on track during the previous day, which cost him the overall lead and dropped him back to ninth in the general classification.
Price was followed by teammate Antoine Meo in sixth for Stage 4. Meo is taking a measured approach to the Dakar in his first year, stopping to help a downed rider in Stage 2 and managing his pace in Stage 3 to keep the momentum moving forward. He kept a steady pace through Stage 4 to ensure his tires remain in good condition for Stage 5.
Team HRC’s Michael Metge ended inside the top-10 in seventh followed by KTM rider Gerard Farres Guell in eighth. American Ricky Brabec makes his first stage finish within the top-10, ending the day ninth fastest. Rockstar Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla trailed Brabec in 10th.
All was not well among those in the motorcycle ranks however, with Rockstar Husqvarna’s Pela Renet suffering an off near the end of the special section. Renet sustained a head injury and was taken to a local hospital by medical staff. The extent of his injuries have yet to be revealed.
2016 Dakar Rally Stage 4 Results
1. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) PRT – 4:07:19
2. Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) PRT – 4:09:54
3. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG – 4:09:56
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) ESP – 4:10:30
5. Toby Price (KTM) AUS – 4:11:20
6. Antoine Meo (KTM) FRA – 4:11:34
7. Michael Metge (Honda) FRA – 4:12:39
8. Gerard Farres Guell (KTM) ESP – 4:12:42
9. Ricky Brabec (Honda) USA – 4:12:48
10. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) CHL – 4:13:11
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 4
1. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) PRT – 10:35:17
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) ARG – 10:37:34
3. Joan Barreda (Honda) ESP – 10:38:20
4. Stefan Svitko (KTM) SVK – 10:40:39
5. Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) PRT – 10:40:41
6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) AUT – 10:42:25
7. Toby Price (KTM) AUS – 10:43:13
8. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) CHL – 10:43:39
9. Antoine Meo (KTM) FRA – 10:46:12
10. Alain Duclos (Sherco TVS) FRA – 10:46:28
- Paolo Ceci during Stage 3.
- Kevin Benavides was fastest in adjusted time in Stage 3.
- Alessandro Botturi ended Stage 3 in 31st.
- Pablo Quintanilla ended Stage 3 in eighth-place.