Carlos Sainz has been a thorn in the X-raid MINI team’s efforts so far and took the stage win as well as the overall lead in his SMG buggy.
Author: Craig Perronne Photos Courtesy of ASO
Carlos Sainz is back on top after winning the longest stage ever since the Dakar moved to South America. Today’s epic stage, running from San Juan to Chilecito, covered a massive 538 miles. Two Special Stages combined for a total of 310 miles of racing. Adding to the difficulty of the stage was oppressive heat with temperatures running around 107 degrees and with humidity from local thunderstorms also adding to the harsh conditions.
None of that stopped Carlos Sainz and his SMG buggy from flying through today’s stage taking both the win and pushing him into the overall lead. A slew of MINIs chased Sainz with Stephane PeterHansel coming in second just six minutes and 12 seconds behind Sainz. Nasser Al-Attiyah brought up third in another MINI with Federico Villagra and Nani Roma taking fourth and fifth (also in MINIs).
Nasser Al-Attiyah was among the hordes of MINIs trying to hunt Sainz down. He would come in third just behind his teammate Stephane Peterhansel.
Can Sainz hold off the juggernaut that is the Monster Energy X-raid MINI team? Thousands of miles of racing are still left so it is too early to call.
As yesterday’s winner, Nani had to start first and “sweep” the course for the rest of the drivers. “I am very, very happy. Today’s stage was difficult to navigate. We spent the entire day in the front. The others must have gained lots of time on us because of this, but that’s the way it is. I am happy to be here and tomorrow will be another day,” said a happy Nani at the end of the stage. In the overall rankings, Nani would slide back to second but is just two minutes and six seconds behind Sainz. With thousands of miles left to race, it is an easy gap to overcome.
Robby Gordon had a much better day running in the top ten until slowing later in the stage. Most importantly he had no major mechanical problems.
The American effort also remained steady. Robby Gordon did not have the stellar results of Stage 3, but was running in the top ten before dropping back a bit and finishing in 14th. However, the run was reported to be free of mechanical issues, which is huge for the Gordini.
BJ Baldwin significantly improved his standings pushing his Jeffries-built Monster Energy racer into the 25th position. His run wasn’t completely clean though as his racecar mysteriously shut off in the first part of the stage. BJ shared both him and co-driver Quinn Cody did whatever they could to troubleshoot the problem when they noticed that the taillights of the racer turned back on. BJ hit the starter button and the Jeffries buggy fired back up and they were off.
BJ’s run was much better than that of his teammate’s Chicherit Guerlain. The French driver noticed that the oil pressure dropped immediately and the oil temperature skyrocketed. When they got out of the car to inspect, it was already on fire and ended up being completely consumed by flames. A broken oil line is suspected as the cause of the total loss and Guerlain’s Dakar is over.
Honda’s Joan Barreda remains just ahead of the legendary Marc Coma in the overall lead with a gap of only three minutes and ten seconds.
Tomorrow’s stage will be another huge one with another 565 miles to cover. So far the racers have travelled just under 2,500 miles. The scary thing is that there are still nine stages remaining!
There are lots of lovely sights in Argentina!
Jaun Garcia Pedrero was the surprise winner of the stage on the motorcycles aboard a Sherco.
Overall Standings as of Stage 4 1 303 SAINZ CARLOS (ESP) SMG ORIGINAL 05h20m32s 2 300 PETERHANSEL STÉPHANE (FRA) MINI 05h26m36s +06m04s 3 301 AL-ATTIYAH NASSER (QAT) MINI 05h29m30s +08m58s 4 330 VILLAGRA FEDERICO (ARG) MINI 05h33m51s +13m19s 5 304 ROMA NANI (ESP) MINI 05h34m40s +14m08s 6 307 TERRANOVA ORLANDO (ARG) MINI 05h36m36s +16m04s 7 302 DE VILLIERS GINIEL (ZAF) TOYOTA HILUX 05h45m21s +24m49s 8 315 LAVIEILLE CHRISTIAN (FRA) HAVAL H8 05h47m31s +26m59s 9 316 THOMASSE PASCAL (FRA) BUGGY MD RALLYE OPTIMUS 05h54m09s +33m37s 10 342 RAKHIMBAYEV AIDYN (KAZ) TOYOTA HILUX 05h54m40s +34m08s