Following the special-stage wins of Leonid Novitskiy and Nani Roma, French pairing Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret gave Team X-raid its third special-stage win in today’s fourth special stage, with their green Monster Energy MINI ALL4 Racing. Thanks to this success, the Frenchman also regained the lead in the overall rankings. Spaniard Nani Roma and his French co-driver Michel Périn took their yellow Monster Energy MINI ALL4 Racing to fourth position, followed by their team-mates Krysztof Holowczyc (Poland) and Jean-Marc Fortin (Belgium) in the ORLEN MINI ALL4 Racing. Russian-German pairing Leonid Novitskiy / Andi Schulz in the orange MINI ALL4 Racing and the two Portuguese Ricardo Leal dos Santos and Paulo Fiuza with the red MINI ALL4 Racing completed the fine team result by finishing ninth and eleventh respectively.
Peterhansel had to wait for the closing stages of the fourth special stage to take the lead. For a long time, he held second position behind Nasser Al Attiyah but then, the latter was forced to stop for 15 minutes. The Frenchman benefited from Al Attiyah’s problem and celebrated his first special-stage win in the 2012 Dakar Rally. “Following the two punctures we encountered yesterday I opted for a somewhat careful approach in the early stages,” revealed Peterhansel. “Even later I didn’t take the car to the very limit – and I think doing so was the right strategy. In the closing stages I passed the two standing Hummers and Terranova who was stopped by a puncture.”
Roma, the winner of yesterday’s third special stage, finished fourth, today. He had the difficult task to open the fourth special stage. “Finding the right way wasn’t easy,” the Spaniard said, “While the others could follow our track.” The 39-year old opted for a cautious style of driving, today, and explained: “You can’t win the Dakar in these special stages – but losing it is possible at any time.”
There are days when things just don’t run as you would like them to – and Holowczyc encountered one of these days, today. “The result isn’t exactly what you would call bad but I’m not happy with our achievements, nevertheless,” said the Pole who finished fifth. “I just failed to find a good rhythm.”
Russian-German pairing Leonid Novitskiy and Andi Schulz keep on contesting the Dakar with a somewhat restrained attitude. “We don’t want to take unnecessary risks,” explained navigator Schulz. “The case of Nasser demonstrates that you can be struck by a problem at any time. So, we prefer to avoid getting involved in any trouble.” But despite being so careful, they had to stop once to change a flat tyre.
Following the bad luck in a mud hole Ricardo Leal dos Santos and Paulo Fiuza had to cope with yesterday, things went clearly better for the Portuguese pairing, today. With their red MINI ALL4 Racing, the came 11th.
For Chilean-French pairing Duo Boris Garafulic / Gilles Picard in their Vision Advisor BMW X3 CC, being careful also represents the top priority. “Boris did a fantastic job, today,” praised co-driver Picard. “He drove rather fast, but without making the slightest mistake.” The two Russians Alexander Mironkeno / Sergey Lebedev in the BUER BMW X3 CC came 26th, thus finishing right ahead of their German team-mates Stephan Schott / Holm Schmidt in the KS Tools BMW X3 CC.
Tomorrow’s fifth special stage is the last one that will be contested solely in Argentina. The route takes the field from Chilecito to Fiambala. Fiambala is renowned for its dunes that have made an end to the hopes of numerous Dakar competitors, in the past. So, it comes as no surprise that the majority of the drivers think that only this special stage represents the true beginning of the Dakar. And before starting into the 265-kilometre special stage, they have to complete a 151-kilometre liaison section.
Result 4th special stage:
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 49m 33s
2. O. Terranova (ARG) / A. Grider (USA) Toyota – 3h 54m 52s
3. G. De Villiers (RSA) / D. von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota – 3h 56m 15s
4. N. Roma (ESP) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 3h 57m 08s
5. K. Holowczyc (POL) / J.-M. Fortin (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing – 4h 00m 24s
10. L. Novitskiy (RUS) / A. Schulz (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing – 4h 03m 46s
11. R.D. Dos Santos (POR) / P. Fiuza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 4h 04m 10s
17. B. Garafulic (CHI) / G. Picard (FRA) BMW X3 CC – 4h 20m 03s
26. A.Mironenko (RUS) / S.Lebedev (RUS) BMW X3 CC – 4h 38m 41s
27. S. Schott (GER) / H.Schmidt (GER) BMW X3 CC – 4h 42m 32s
Overall standings with four special stages contested:
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 9h 43m 20s
2. G. de Villiers (RSA) / D. von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota – 9h 49m 01s
3. N. Roma (ESP) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 9h 50m 04s
4. K. Holowczyc (POL) / J.-M. Fortin (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing – 9h 51m 30s
6. Novitskiy (RUS) / A. Schulz (GER) MINI ALL4 Racing – 10h 09m 45s
15. B. Garafulic (CHI) / G. Picard (FRA) BMW X3 CC – 11h 10m 25s
30. R.D. Dos Santos (POR) / P. Fiuza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 12h 45m 56s
36. A. Mironenko (RUS) / S.Lebedev (RUS) BMW X3 CC – 13h 14m 56s
57. S.Schott (GER) / H.Schmidt (GER) BMW X3 CC – 19h 50m 12s