We’re sad to report that Canadian Don Hatton was listed as a "Withdrawal" today; unfortunately no more information on what happened to him is available yet.
Otherwise Spain continued its domination of the 2009 Dakar, as Marc Coma (KTM)
and Carlos Sainz (VW Toureg) won the fourth stage of the motorbike and
car classes. The stage victories kept both entrants in charge of the
overall lead in both groups.
Coma added to his opening and third stage wins in seeing off Frenchman Cyril Despres (Yamaha) – who has virtually given up all hope of winning a third Dakar after losing over an hour in the first three stage.
Depres has to win some kind of Iron Man award, however, as he’s been riding with a hernia! The French madman finished the stage one minute and 17 seconds behind Coma, while American Jonah Street’s third place effort was enough to take him to second overall, but still 40 minutes off the overall.
David Fretigne of France, fourth on the day, stands third overall.
Coma admitted that the stage had taken a lot out of him. "This (the stage) was more physically challenging because I started to feel the efforts of the first few days," the Spaniard said. Today (Tuesday), was shorter but really harder than the previous stages."
On the fifth stage, competitors will travel from Neuquen to San Rafael, which includes a 506 km special section. The overall for the day is a grueling 763 km, and organizers consider that this will be one of the toughest stages of the rally.
On a sad note, French rider Pascal Terry was found dead in dense vegetation about 15 metres from his Yamaha on Tuesday. The 49-year-old had gone missing on Sunday between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madryn in his first Dakar attempt. He called organizers with a sat-phone to report that he had run out of gas, but borrowed some from another motorcyclist at the 192-km mark. He did not apparently remount.
Organizers attempted to contact him by phone and started a search for the rider. He was found in the shade, with his helmet off, and with food and water next to him. An investigation will be made into the cause of his death.
The Dakar is a dangerous race. Two British drivers were seriously hurt in a crash in the first stage of the race and are currently in artificial comas.