Dakar: Gauloises Racing stage 4 report

In the bikes there was drama right at the start when last year's winner Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM) crashed just 5 kms into the first African special and cut his left forearm. Spaniard Nani Roma also ran into problems when his bib mousse...

In the bikes there was drama right at the start when last year's winner Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM) crashed just 5 kms into the first African special and cut his left forearm.

Spaniard Nani Roma also ran into problems when his bib mousse broke up. Yesterday's overall leader David Fretigne also had his fair share of excitement running into fuel supply difficulties to finish in 39th place. Victory went to the Italian Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM), with South African Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM) second and Spaniard Esteve Pujol (KTM) third. Overall Esteve Pujol now leads with Meoni second at 00m14 and Despres third at 00m17.

In the cars Ari Vatanen won his 50th Dakar special finishing just 10 seconds ahead of Peterhansel with Biaison third at 00m33. Overall Peterhansel leads 1m07 ahead of Biasion with De Mevius third at 1m28. The Gauloises Schlesser Ford Buggies of Jean Louis and Jose Maria Servia finished 8th and 10th respectively with Servia 7th overall at 2m01 and Jean Louis 10th at 3m13.

In the trucks victory went to Kabirov with Gerardus De Rooy (Gauloises De Rooy) second at 0m17 and Tchaguine third. Overall De Rooy Junior takes the lead 13 seconds ahead of Kabriov with Tchaguine third. De Rooy Senior punctured in the special just before CP1 and unable to change the wheel was forced to continue with a flat tyre all the way to the end, losing 40 minutes in the process.

Fabrizio Meoni (Gauloises KTM International) 1st (in 41m53) 2nd overall (at 00m14)

"I didn't plan on winning here -- in 3 or 4 days a special victory will be much more important. The problems experienced by Roma and Sainct just go to show how much pressure everybody is under so early on in the race."

Alfie Cox (Gauloises KTM International) 2nd (at 00m43) 4th overall (at 00m32)

"I had a great day -- it was a fun stage through the forest, but you had to be every careful with the road book as there were a lot of changes of direction and it wasn't easy to follow. At one point we did 13 km of tarmac and Fabrizio hit 200 kph! I was on the rev limiter and hit 184 kph!"

Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM France) official result pending

"We have done so many kilometres of liaison since the end of the special that I'm having trouble remembering what it was like! Ah yes - I remember now -- it was very pretty and twisty. I was sent off 1 minute after Fretigne by mistake and that seems to have caused a little problem with the timing as I see I'm classed as 12th on the special, while on the overall I'm third. I caught Fretigne fairly quickly -- he obviously had a problem with his bike -- and after that opened the piste with great care as the navigation was complicated and the going very slippery. Even though there were quite a lot of dramas today the special itself was just a short 'warm up'."

Richard Sainct (Gauloises KTM France) 30th (at 6m51) 20th overall (at 5m42)

"I still don't really understand what happened. About 5 or 6 kms into the special I lost the front end accelerating over some small stones at about 100 kph. I slide a long way and then the bike flipped over and broke the clutch lever. Without the clutch lever I lost a little time getting going and also again at the CP. In addition I cut my left forearm and will probably need a couple of stitches. If it had happened on a long special it could have been disastrous but as it was I didn't lose too much time."

Miran Stanovnik (Gauloises KTM Privateer) 19th (at 4m33) 24th overall (at 7m15)

"The tarmac liaison was very long and boring but the special was a lot of fun. Without taking any risks I finished 19th today and am quite happy with my performance."

Eric Verhoef (Gauloises KTM Privateer) 26th (at 6m01) 22nd overall (at 6m15)

"I was going really well and went through the CP in 6th place but unfortunately my bib mousse broke up and I had to back off."

Jean Louis Schlesser (Gauloises Schlesser Ford Buggy) 8th (at 1m37) 10th overall (at 3m13)

"We nearly got stuck in the water crossing and lost time accelerating out of the corners in the soft sand. Apart from that everything went fine and both Jose and myself are ideally placed to tackle the first real special of the rallye tomorrow. Having said that for me the rallye won't really start until after Atar."

Jose Maria Servia (Gauloises Schlesser Ford Buggy) 10th (at 2m06) 7th overall (at 2m01)

"It was very narrow, quite fast and with lots of trees so you had to take care. There was also a couple of deep water crossings that demanded attention."

Thierry De Lavergne (Gauloises Senegal Nissan) 26th (at 8m11) 28th overall (at 14m01)

"The important thing for us is to get everybody to the finish in Senegal to show what we are capable of, so for now we are taking it easy. Once we get to Mauritania we will pick up the pace with the intention of finishing in the top 15."

Jean Pierre Strugo (Gauloises Mercedes) 30th (at 9m36) 35th overall (at 16m19)

"We had problems on the first two specials but today everything went perfectly and we had a trouble free run. It means we have come back to where we should be -- two places ahead of Ratet on the special and within a minute of him overall. It is important not to start too far back tomorrow as their we be 'traffic jams' in the 4km of dunes and we don't want to get stuck in them."

Alexandre Debanne (Gauloises Mercedes) 87th (at 20m48) 79th overall (at 32m49)

"I got stuck in neutral going through some water which was a bit of a worry but apart from that we didn't have any particular problems. Now we have vibration coming through one of the wheels and I would like to get that sorted out before we start tomorrow."

Gerardus De Rooy (Gauloises De Rooy) 2nd (at 0m17) 1st overall (in 1h32m04)

"After CP1 it was quite dangerous, with some nasty drops at the edge of the track, so I decided to take it a bit easy. It might have cost me the special victory but I don't care -- the rallye has only just started and I don't want to take any unnecessary risks."

-gauloises-

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Ari Vatanen , José Maria Servia , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Miran Stanovnik , Eric Verhoef , Nani Roma , Alexandre Debanne , David Fretigne , Jean Louis Schlesser