The DAKAR rally marathon participants continue to study a new country – this year the event is completely held in Saudi Arabia.
The fourth stage of the rally was held in the mountainous region of Wadi Al Disah, located in the southwestern province of Tabuk. Wadi (often used option – “valley”) is located in the natural reserve of Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to the organizers, the DAKAR rally marathon fourth stage route was an approximately equal ratio of sand and rocky legs with gravel sections – only 14% of the distance had to be covered with stones. In fact, everything turned out to be like that, but the DAKAR multiple participants have not seen such stones in their entire careers.
According to the racers, it has been the stoniest stage since the race start. It was not a track, but a trial with stones of different sizes ingrown into the ground during eighty final kilometers of the special stage. It seems to be a little from the overall stage length point of view, but it was this stony segment that affected the rankings in the group of leaders.
The route ran at altitudes from 1,000 to 1,400 meters above sea level again. Looking at the stage map, it might seem that the course was too direct, but in fact it was not – navigation was difficult, there were many parallel tracks, as it has already happened earlier at this race.
The past day has again become an arena of intense struggle in each standing. At the same time, several favorites in the Car and Truck standings faced different troubles once again.
Stones, stones, stones – absolutely all racers have spoken about them at the special stage finish today. The last few tens of kilometers of the distance, the crews covered at a speed of no more than 30 kmph – so as not to damage the wheels. Those who were lucky enough to keep the tyres intact took high places at the finish line. But there were racers who were unlucky – they punctured the wheels and lost a lot of time. Unfortunately, two crews in MAZ trucks were unlucky today for this reason.
So, the leader of the DAKAR Truck standings has changed again. Today the MAZ-SPORTauto team crew led by Sergey VYAZOVICH and supported by Gazpromneft – Lubricants has lost 13 minutes to their main opponent Andrey Karginov from the KAMAZ-Master team and, after four stages, the Russian became the leader in the standings. The Belarusian racer is taking the second place in the intermediate classification, losing about 11 minutes to the leader. Anton Shibalov is the third in the general classification, four minutes behind VYAZOVICH.
In the course of the fourth special stage, the leader changed twice. Sergey VYAZOVICH, performing in the bonneted MAZ with the G-Energy logo on board, led the race from the start. However, by the middle of the day’s distance, Andrey Karginov and Anton Shibalov from the KAMAZ-Master team were ahead of him.
Then VYAZOVICH punctured one of the wheels and was forced to stop to replace it – it cost the Belarusian crew more than 10 minutes. Each puncture and the subsequent replacement of the wheel with a spare one is a waste of time, therefore, on rocky stretches of the distance the crews try to keep the tyres intact.
However, no matter how hard Sergey VYAZOVICH tried, he did not succeed in avoiding the second puncture. Fortunately, the puncture was “slow” and the truck managed to get to the special stage finish, using the tyre inflation system. At the same time, VYAZOVICH simultaneously won three positions on the last kilometers of the fourth day distance, finishing the day sixth following the hybrid truck of Gert Huzink.
Alexey VISHNEVSKY, also representing the MAZ-SPORTauto team, completed the fourth stage with the ninth result. And his teammate Alexander VASILEVSKY set the 14th time - he also punctured two wheels.
But not only the Belarusian team racers suffered from punctures. Last year’s DAKAR winner Eduard Nikolaev from the KAMAZ-master team also pierced two wheels and his teammate Dmitry Sotnikov even had to stop to give one of their spare wheels – so that Nikolaev had at least one undamaged spare.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL FIND TOMORROW
On 9 January, the fifth stage will be the first third of the DAKAR 2020 distance. The 353-kilometer special stage will finally lead racers and riders to the huge dunes – almost half of the route on Thursday will pass in the sands. However, there are also enough rocks and stones, they will serve as excellent landmarks for co-drivers, but participants should also not forget about the risk of a puncture.