Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – 06/01/2021
Stage 4 was the longest stage of the rally with a 266km liaison, 337km special and a further 253km liaison into Riyadh – a total of around 850km.
Although it was the longest stage in the rally, it probably wasn’t the toughest on the competitors. There was less sand, less big dunes but plenty of fast winding tracks.
Andrew and his Coca-Cola Nomadas Adventure teammate Pablo Guillen started just 30 seconds apart today and tracked together for most of the early parts of the day.
While plenty of the top riders are bouncing up and down in the placings each day, Andrew and Pablo are maintaining a consistent pace.
Their goal is to ensure they finish in their rookie year at the Dakar Rally.
Andrew had a really good day until about 40km before the end of the special, when the mousse in his rear tyre blew.
The tyre mousse is a ring of flexible foam (no, not a fluffy chocolate dessert) that is placed inside a tyre before it is fitted on the rim.
In the event of an air leak and loss of pressure, the mousse expands to fill the void, giving a pressure almost equal to that of a properly inflated tyre.
He managed to limp into the final checkpoint to finish the day in 70th position, but that was enough to bump him up 2 places in the overall standings to 67th.
Pablo finished the stage in 58th which also moved him up 2 places overall to 65th.
With the timed section completed successfully, Andrew headed into the final liaison into Riyadh knowing that the rear tyre was at risk.
It finally shredded itself, and now with a fully deflated rear tyre the bike was becoming much more difficult to keep straight.
Andrew made it safely into the bivouac at around 7:15 pm, after dealing with the chaotic traffic of Riyadh and having a close call with a truck.
“It was a very fast day with about 30kms of big steep dunes”, Andrew says. “I had a really good run until the tyre issue which cost me a lot of time.”
“I also had a rider crash right in front of me! He didn’t notice the triple caution, hit a hole and went flying.”
Michael Burgess also reported coming across a crashed rider today.
He said in Facebook post that he had chatted to the rider at a refuelling stop.
“He came over and said ‘be safe’, we punched fist and off he went.”
“Then 10km in I came around the corner to a scene no one wants to see.”
Fortunately both riders were okay.
Burgess finished today in 34th place, and now holds down 38th overall.
Toby Price led the field of 96 riders out today and at the second timing point still had the lead.
But a navigation error soon after that cost him just over five minutes and dropped him 20 places.
Although he lost more time relative to the leaders during the rest of the stage, he maintained his place and finished today in 21st position, dropping him to 8th overall.
Daniel Sanders continues to show why KTM recruited him late last year. Another steady run today had him across the line in 2nd place, just six minutes and nine seconds behind stage winner Joan Barreda. He’s now 14th overall.
Stage 5 is reportedly a tough one – a total of 795km with a 456km special – and a mixture of sand, dunes, soil and rock.
Organisers are saying that tough dunes in the middle of the stage and numerous rocks will bring down the average speed, and that “competitors who fail to control their nerves are in for a bad day”.
We’ll bring you a stage preview later in the day.