Dakar: Stage 4 Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate notes

Stage 4: Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate January 3, 2006 Connection 56 km - Special 386 km - Connection 197 km Total 639 km Gateway to the desert This could be considered as a Dakar classic, but there is something unknown here too. It is perhaps the...

Stage 4: Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate
January 3, 2006
Connection 56 km - Special 386 km - Connection 197 km
Total 639 km

Gateway to the desert
This could be considered as a Dakar classic, but there is something unknown here too. It is perhaps the rally's most varied special. With the first dunes, it will doubtless be the time to get out the shovels and sand mats, before taking on the shotts, stretches of sandy or stony wadis... It's a time for co-drivers to bury their head in the road book, not in the sand.

Stage 4: 2006-01-03, Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate.
Photo by A.S.O.
10:42: Night watch
Latecomers, mechanical repairs, funny stories and nightmares... Life goes on after night fall in the Dakar bivouac. Every morning, don't miss out on what happened!

23h40 -- Tough times for the Harley
Scott Whitney and Duane McDowell, who are competing on a Harley-Davidson side-car that they built, have already witnessed quite a few upsets for their first Dakar: "For two days now, we have been troubled by a chain problem. It isn't that bad but we have to stop all the time. That's why the day was so long. A designed a device to guide the chain in a better way and it's better now ". Thankfully, Mr Whitney, father who takes care of his son's assistance has all night to work on the machine.

0h00 -- 6 hours pulled by an assistance vehicle
Helder Oliveira and Jose Marques made it to the bivouac pulled by a fast assistance vehicle. The problems started at km 160 of the special for the two Portuguese. A fuel pressure control worry ruined their day. After a first repair, they again broke down. The assistance will cost them a heavy time penalty but at least they know where the problem comes from. Everything should be soon settled.

0h25 -- Morsillo not sure to carry on
Jean-Claude Morsillo, who had already competed on the Dakar back in the 80s, is back in the rally to finish off what he had started, 20 years later but this time he wants to make it to Dakar. But in Er Rachidia his project seems to have taken a blow. Alone on an old side-car, Morsillo spent a day that could well be his last on his 2006 edition. "I had a front tumble and the bike was really damaged: the GPS was ripped off, like the Iritrack, the Sentinel, the road-book and the rear light. My handle bar is twisted and the clutch is battered!"

1h50 -- Officials with Kabirov
The title holder in the truck race broke the turbo of his Kamaz truck because of driving for too long without oil. The installation of a new turbo requests the presence of officials and according to the sporting jury, all is in order to carry on.

2h10 -- Work for Tatra
Andre De Azevedo had serious problems during the previous stage. A gear box worry that prevented him from going into 5th and 6th gear during al the end of the course. Time for the mechanics to get to work. The Brazilian decided to take off for a test drive. Another few touches and De Azevedo should be able to carry on in a brand new truck.


07:33 - First dunes
Like many competitors discovered immediately for their entry in Africa: the navigation is already crucial in Morocco. Other than the leading riders, hesitations were numerous among the Dakar caravan and things won't get better on the day's special that'll be slightly longer. In the first third of the course, the sand lovers will have their first taste of dunes this year. The Merzougha erg, five kilometre long, will be the first crossing test of the rally. The specialists shouldn't be too worried, but newcomers will start digging...

In the leading positions of the bike race, the men in shape of the previous shape will be forced to take off first and will find it hard not to be caught by their followers. Too bad for Andy Caldecott who should move back to his role as a support rider for Marc Coma, ideally positioned for a good performance. In the car race, Jean-Louis Schlesser will probably have problems to repeat his feat of the previous day. But even the Mitsubishis of Masuoka and Peterhansel, who impressed yesterday will have to battle hard to make a difference.


10:45 - Esteve fastest at CP1
At the first CP (km 125) of the day's special between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate in Morocco, Isidre Esteve, a late starter has the fastest time so far. The Spaniard leads with a 9" advantage on Marc Coma, 31" on De Gavardo and 1'01 on Despres. At the front of the race, Despres overall leader was seen riding alongside De Gavardo and Caldecott.

11:16 - Esteve fastest at CP2
At the second check point of the day (km 221), Isidre Esteve still appears to be the fastest riders. He now has a 1'16" advantage on Marc Coma, 5'56" on Carlo De Gavardo, 7' on overall leader Cyril Despres and 9'55" on privateer Agra Carrera, the first of the Yamaha bikers.

11:37 - Coma virtually overall leader
While the leading bikers are slowly but surely moving closer to the finish line of the day's special, it appears that Marc Coma is virtually the new overall leader. Based on the times at CP2 (km 221), the Spaniard would have a 5'28" lead on Cyril Despres.


11:44 - Al Attiyah fastest at CP1
At CP1 (km 125) of the car special, Nasser Al Attiyah in his BMW X3 has the fastest time so far. Second is Bruno Saby (Volkswagen) at 11", followed by team mates Sainz at 32" and De Villiers at 35". Fifth is Mitsubishi's Luc Alphand at 1'02".

12:49 - Al Attiyah fastest at CP2
Fastest at the first CP, Nasser Al Attiyah also has the quickest time at CP2 (km 221). The Qatar BMW X3 driver has a 54" lead on Carlos Sainz(VW), 4'14 on De Villiers and 5' on Luc Alphand. Title holder Stephane Peterhansel went through the second CP over 27' behind.


12:57 - Esteve wins special
Fastest at both CPs, Isidre Esteve who took off in 19th spot this morning has just won the day's special. The Spaniard of the KTM-Gauloises team beats compatriot Marc Coma by 28". Third is Carlo De Gavardo at 5'15 while Cyril Despres lost 6'50" finishing fourth.

13:00 - Coma new overall leader
KTM Repsol rider Marc Coma is the new overall leader in the bike race. The Spaniard has a 4'51" advantage on compatriot Isidre Esteve. Former raly leader Cyril Despres is now third at 5'06".


14:29 - Sainz wins stage
Spaniard Carlos Sainz, winner of the first two European specials has clocked the fastest time on the finish line. The Volkswagen driver beat Schlesser-Ford's Thierry Magnaldi by 2'. Luc Alphand in his Pajero is third at 3'10" followed by De Villiers (VW) at 3'16". Bruno Saby is 5th at 4'53".

14:36 - Sainz back in race leadership
After suffering navigational problems yesterday, Carlos Sainz is back in the overall leadership of the car race. The Spaniard has a 4'51 on Volkswagen teammate Bruno Saby and 5'09 on another Race Touareg driver Jutta Kleinschmidt.


17:00 - Four in a row for Tchaguine
Four stages so far in this Dakar and four successes for four-time Dakar winner Vladimir Tchaguine. The Russian in his Kamaz truck captured the fastest time of the day beating Hans Stacey by 2'42". Third is title holder Firdaus Kabirov.


18:40 - Masuoka drops out
The Japanese driver Hiroshi Masuoka, who suffered a forward roll between CP1 and CP2, completed the special with a damaged car and will not continue racing tomorrow. After examination by Mitsubishi technicians, Masuoka's Pajero Evo 4 was adjudged to be beyond repair.


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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Jean-Louis Schlesser , Hiroshi Masuoka , Stéphane Peterhansel , Cyril Despres , Bruno Saby , Marc Coma , Andy Caldecott , Thierry Magnaldi , Hans Stacey , Helder Oliveira , Jose Marques