Repsol KTM’s Marc Coma took his second straight stage victory and moved into the overall lead as the Dakar Rally crossed the Andes and entered Chile’s Atacama Desert, helped by a 10-minute penalty assessed to previous leader Cyril Despres on his Red Bull KTM. The difference between the two is the penalty, plus two seconds on the road.
"It was difficult to open the way," Coma said of the relatively short special test. "I’m happy and I felt great. I hope it stays like that right until the end. The general standings don’t matter for the moment. The most important thing will be the last day. It’s essential to have a good pace and avoid making mistakes. Now we’ll have to deal with two very difficult stages.”
Chile’s Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez moved into third overall on his Aprilia, pleased to be riding on home ground, putting him 20 minutes behind Coma overall.
“It was a very quick day,” he said. “Cyril and Marc are riding at a crazy pace. I can’t keep up with them for the moment. I prefer the stages with more off-track riding … I’m going to try and claw time back on Coma and Despres but it’s not easy … Mind you, there’s still a long way to go in the rally.”
On the car side, Carlos Sainz still holds a slender lead of only four minutes over his VW team-mate Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah of Qatar.
The upcoming fifth stage is basically one huge special of 423 km, on a total of 459 km for the day. Rocky tracks precede some heavy dunes, and the day ends on wide-open off-track terrain, followed by a 32 percent gradient drop to the Pacific Ocean.