Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally 2020 was considerably longer than the previous day’s Stage, which meant more time in the saddle for all competitors in the Bike Category.
Botswana’s Ross Branch (Bas Dakar KTM Racing Team) followed up his win on Stage 2 with a 3rd place today – despite riding with a separated shoulder and starting in dead-last place.
A helping hand
In the Original by Motul Category, Stuart Gregory (who yesterday stopped twice to help injured riders) found today harder going. He ultimately finished Stage 4 in 17th place in his Category, just over an hour after the day’s Category winner.
Like many of his fellow competitors, Gregory was taken aback at just how stony much of the Stage 4 terrain proved to be.
He commented: “Today was a super-tough day – it was the day that this year’s Dakar really started. There were 50km of black rocks with no path, and lots of stones being flung up by passing cars to add to the challenge. I’m a bit tired after such a long day but still going and still positive."
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Image: Motul SA
Despite the challenges of the day, Gregory is now up to 11th place in his Category – an achievement that is all the more impressive given that only 26 Original by Motul Category riders remain in the race.
The scenery on Stage 4 was dominated by massive rock formations, glowing golden in the desert light and smoothed into strange shapes by wind-blown grains of sand. Even “Mister Dakar” himself, Stéphane Peterhansel, commented that the rocky sections towards the end of today’s Stage made it especially challenging. That didn’t stop him taking the Stage win in the Car Category, however, to add still more gloss to his Dakar palmarès.
At time of publishing, Terence Marsh, CEO of Motul-backed Red-Lined Motoring Adventures, reported that the Sabertooth Motoring Adventure/Red-Lined team’s Nissan Navara had just completed the stage. He explained: “It’s just gone 10pm local time and the guys have just finished the stage.
"They did not have any mechanical issues, but the team had to borrow wheels from other competitors and then had to wait for the T4 assistance truck with extra tyres due to the number of punctures they’ve experienced. The guys are exhausted and hoping for some rest before going out there again tomorrow."
Having to race at night of course only adds to the challenge of the Dakar and underlines how even the best-prepared teams have to be able to adapt when things don’t go quite according to plan.
Image: Motul SA