Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage four report

Victory on the fourth stage of the 2007 Dakar went to Marc Coma ahead of Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) with Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) third. Their team mate David Casteu was fourth with the 4th member of Team Gauloises KTM, Frans Verhoeven 7th.

Victory on the fourth stage of the 2007 Dakar went to Marc Coma ahead of Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) with Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) third. Their team mate David Casteu was fourth with the 4th member of Team Gauloises KTM, Frans Verhoeven 7th. Overall Coma pulls out a lead of 11'50 over Esteve with Casteu third at 24'20. Cyril Despres has moved up to 6th place at 44'25 with Verhoeven in 7th place at 51'36. The rally was plunged into mourning by news of the fatal accident of South African rider Elmer Symons who died during the special.

Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) 2nd (at 12'16) 2nd overall (at 11'50)

"When I started this morning I thought I was in for an easy day, but then I ran into problems at around km 75 / 80. I was riding in the dust trying to get past Chris Blais and didn't pay enough attention to the road book. I thought I was coming up to a way point and couldn't understand why I hadn't got it. Eventually I stopped to ask Chris and eventually worked out that I had past it and hadn't noticed. By the time I got to the refuelling point Marc Coma had pulled out 12 minutes on me -- an advantage he maintained til the finish. The good news is I don't have too much to do on the bike. I have a couple of spokes broken on my rear wheel, but fortunately I have my friend Casteu here with me and I am sure he will give me a hand!"

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 3rd (at 18'56) 6th overall (at 44'25)

"I started 21st this morning and it has been a while since I have ridden with the top privateers. They go at a good pace and kick up a load of dust and are really hard to overtake. At one point there were six of them riding in a group and it was virtually impossible to see where you were going. There is always the option of taking a parallel piste but they aren't marked on the road book and you don't know what dangers they might hide. In all it took me 200 kms to get past 15 riders and when I finally did get by I had a small crash. At refuelling there were 6 riders ahead of me but in the dunes I didn't get on to the right track and lost a little bit more time. Still at least I start third tomorrow and won't have nearly so much dust to contend with."

David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 4th (at 23'43) 3rd overall (at 24'20)

"Eric (Bernard - Team Gauloises KTM's manager) told me to take it easy today so as not to put pressure on Isidre and to preserve the bike. At km 80 I got a little bit lost but eventually hooked up with Chris Blais and rode with him all the way to the finish. As we have no assistance tonight the important thing was not to destroy the material and I am delighted to say that I have virtually nothing to do on my machine. Isidre's needs a little work and once our team is sorted out I will give some of my privateer friends a helping hand."

Frans Verhoeven (Gauloises KTM) 7th (at 29'31) 7th overall (at 51'36)

"Just 11 kms after the start I saw my friend Alain Duclos lying on the ground and obviously that shook me up a bit. Jordi Viladoms was with him and Alain seemed ok but it is not something that is easy to put out of your mind. After that I caught up with De Azevedo and going through some vegetation I nearly fell into an irrigation ditch. Eventually I managed to get past De Azevedo when he took the wrong piste then, just before refuelling, I saw Cyril was catching me and was amazed to see him so soon -- he must have been really motoring. What I didn't understand was that I saw him again later on and it was only when we got to the refuelling point did I realise that he had a crash. At the CP I helped him straighten his bike out a bit. Then, after that, I took it easy to the finish, so as to economise the bike."

Tonight the riders stay in their 'no assistance' bivouac before tackling the 325 km special from Ouarzazate to Tan Tan.

-credit: gauloises

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Cyril Despres , Marc Coma , Chris Blais , Alain Duclos , David Casteu , Jordi Viladoms , Frans Verhoeven