On leaving the White City, a small zone of dunes distracted the riders and drivers who quickly understood that the day would be a difficult one: fesh-fesh wears down nerves and machinery and there was plenty of it throughout the stage.
In some places, especially alongside the Rio Tambo towards the end of the first 200 kilometres, the tracks became rather rocky. However, once they had come off the high plateau of the Pampa de la Clemesí, they again had to deal with this fine, untameable dust.
The final straight between the port of Ilo and Moquegua gave some sort of comfort for competitors who like to have fun with the trajectories that they take… but only on the condition that they were able to slalom between the stones!
Beaten right at the finish yesterday, Ricky Brabec reacted like a champion on the route to Moquegua, handing out a veritable lesson to his rivals. At a faster pace than all the rest all along the 351 km of the special, the American produced a master stroke to bring the second stage victory of his career on the Dakar and take the lead in the general standings.
The trio of official KTMs limited the damage with Walkner, Price and Sunderland finishing in that order behind the winner, while Pablo Quintanilla and Xavier de Soultrait crawled to the finish more than 20 minutes later. Big gaps were also opened up in the car category thanks to a feisty duel between Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stéphane Peterhansel, which this time tipped in favour of the Toyota driver.
The Qatari strengthened his leadership of the general standings ahead of the Frenchman, whilst things are moving in the SxS category with the first victory of Sergey Karyakin, who is getting stronger with every stage, to such an extent that he is now race leader.
Normal service was resumed in the quad race via the third success out of four stages for the Argentinean favourite Nicolás Cavigliasso. As for the trucks, Andrey Karginov played cat and mouse with Martin Macík before eventually grabbing his second consecutive stage win and climbing to second place in the general standings.
Performance of the day
When choosing Lorenzo Santolino to assist the two official riders Michael and Adrien Metge, the Sherco team management showed excellent judgement.
The Spaniard is today the French constructor’s best placed rider with his first top 10 finish in Moquegua and a solid 13th place in the general standings, making him the leading rookie.
More importantly, Santolino has been making steady progress since the beginning of the rally and will be a rider to watch in the coming days…
A crushing blow
Sébastien Loeb is used to blowing hot and cold on the Dakar. His race seemed to have taken a tricky turn between Arequipa and Tacna, where he suffered three punctures and was forced to finish the special with defective wheel after having already used his two spare ones.
He only lost 12 minutes on the day to Al Attiyah, and Loeb still occupies 5th position in the general standings (50 minutes behind the leader), but such a problem takes on another dimension on a marathon stage.
The man from Alsace should nevertheless be able to count on support from a vehicle taking part in the truck race for his team… which may have anticipated this type of mishap.
Stat of the day
With Nicolás Cavigliasso’s victory in the quad race, the Argentinean is virtually unbeaten in this category since the start in Lima.
It was even a veritable triumph on the fourth stage for Argentina: 5 of its flag-bearers finished in the top 6 in Moquegua! The category is much appreciated by South Americans in general, as testified by the number of Argentineans, Bolivians, Chileans, Colombians, Paraguayans, Peruvians and Uruguayans, who make up the overwhelming majority of the line-up.
Quote of the day
Stéphane Peterhansel: “It was completely different today if we compare it to the first, second or third day. It was completely different with no dunes at all, but only big valleys and also open landscape with fesh-fesh, the famous fesh-fesh of North Chile and the South of Peru, it’s the same. It’s like powder, it goes inside the car and you can’t see anything. Sometimes there are some rocks. Just after the motorcycles, the track was completely destroyed and I can imagine that after all the cars it will be a big casino, for sure”.