Dakar, Stage Four: Coma turns it up

Photo: Facebook

Photo: Joan Barreda/Facebook

Joan Barreda (Honda) grabbed another win in Stage Four of the Dakar Rally on Wednesday, keeping him atop the standings, although Marc Coma (KTM) is pressing hard to keep his crown from last year.

Barreda finished 00:01:59 ahead of Coma to take today’s victory. Now Coma’s in second place overall, pushing Paulo Goncalves (Honda) down to third. Goncalves only managed 12th, which didn’t do much for his podium chances at the end of the race.

The next few days should prove particularly interesting, as Coma raises the pressure on Barreda. Barreda’s in front, and has shown he’s faster than ever, but he’s also known for spectacular crashes. Few riders can combine speed, control and navigational skills to the extent that Coma can, and second place at the end of Stage Four is hardly the end of the world for KTM’s top rider.

With the bikes’ entry into Chile, Pablo Quintanilla (KTM) rocketed up to third place for the day – perhaps he felt a boost because he’s racing in his home country. Jordi Viladoms (KTM) was fourth – he’s always consistent, which will stand him well as long as he can outlast the crash-prone hotshots. Ruben Faria (KTM) finished fifth.

One of the best stories of the day was Laia Sanz (Honda); she got a top-10 finish, ending the day in eighth. She’s in 12th overall right now, and if she can avoid disaster, might end up as the highest-finishing female on a motorcycle in Dakar history. Of course, former motorcycle-turned-car-racer Jutta Kleinschmidt is the only woman who’s ever won the race; she did it on four wheels in 2001.

Not everyone had such a happy day, though. Stage Four was a bummer for Sam Sunderland (KTM), who is headed home early once again, after breaking his shoulder in a crash. It’s terrible luck for Sunderland; a navigation error in Stage 2 meant he was probably out of the running for the overall win, but there was plenty of time left for him to impress his sponsors. Today’s rip through the sand dunes would have particularly suited his riding style, but now the bad-luck Brit is once again denied the chance to finish the Dakar Rally.

KTM-mounted Dakar newbies Matthias Walkner (who won Stage Three) and Toby Price (who put up impressive performances early on) also had downer days, although they’re still in the running. Neither is terribly experienced in desert navigation, which probably resulted in their not-so-stellar showings. They still retain spots in the top 10, though.

Paweł Stasiaczek (KTM) was the only rider of the remaining group who didn’t start today’s stage this morning; he was friends with fellow Pole Michal Hernik, and Hernik’s death in Stage Three probably was the reason Stasiaczek dropped out.

Dakar 2015 : Bike rankings after Stage 4

1. Barreda (Honda) – 13:10:33

2. Coma (KTM) – 13:23:22 (00:12:49)

3. Goncalves (Honda) – 13:31:02 (00:20:29)

4.  Faria (KTM) – 13:33:38 (00:23:05)

5. Viladoms (KTM) – 13:35:24 (00:24:51)

6. Quintanilla (KTM) – 13:41:15 (00:30:42)

7. Price (KTM) – 13:42:38 (00:32:05)

8. Walkner (KTM) – 13:44:01 (00:33:28)

9. Duclos (Sherco) – 13:47:04 (00:36:31)

10. Rodrigues (Honda) – 13:49:38 (00:39:05)

Join the conversation!