Today was the longest stage of this 44th edition of the Dakar Rally. As the race director David Castera said during the briefing, it was also a total change of terrain, after 2 sand & dunes stages with a lot faster tracks made of soil and stones and lot more navigation.
Stage 4: 465km, the longest of the rally
The stage started on fast and winding tracks on a large plateau where navigation again played a very important role with many non-parallel and not very visible tracks. Then after 40km, the pace change for event more complicated navigation on gravel where following the caps was crucial.
With just a couple of dune ridges to cross, the stage was mainly taking place on hard soil, with high average speeds. At some point, around the finish of this very fast stage, a difficult wadi had to be crossed with a lot of water. As the start was around 12h00, we had to finish at dusk using headlights for the last 30 minutes.
Some competitors had problems, we gained one place, now 8th
Early in the stage, Jerome and Mika suffered a puncture and damaged second tire, while not doing any navigation mistake. The car worked better than yesterday after the mechanics worked pretty much all night to fix yesterday’s issues.
While taking risks to preserve tires and not to use the remaining spare wheel, all went fine until the end of the stage where we noticed some of our competitors were stopped on the track for mechanical failures and repairs. This allows us to gain one spot on the overall T4 class, and we are now ranked 9th before tomorrow’s loop stage around Riyadh.
Jérôme de Sadeleer – Driver : « We had a good day, there was a lot to lose but also a lot to gain. We pushed quite hard until a tire exploded so in the last part I drove with my head and paid attention to stones. It was the longest day of the Dakar, very fast on large plateau with dunes quite easy to pass. One place won in the ranking, so it’s encouraging. »
Mika Metge – Navigator : « It was a very varied stage with very fast and stony plateaus, with passages in more technical wadis and mud at times, a little sand too. The navigation was complicated but very fun for me because I did not see the stage pass so many notes and course changes were numerous. 12th in stage, 8th overall, we will try to do even better tomorrow! »
Cyril Neveu – Team Manager : « I’m happy Jerome and Mika finished this stage with a decent time and without any important mistake or technical problem. It motivates all the team to continue on the pace we had in the opening stages of the rally and the difficulties we had to face yesterday. More than ever, we keep our head down and will show what we are capable of! »