Stage 4: Al Qaisumah to Riyadh
Stage 4 of the 2022 Dakar Rally was always going to be one of the longest and hardest days of the rally. A total of 707 km with a 465 km special. The route had a mix of sand, soil and dunes and a few rocks and stones towards the end.
Andrew Houlihan (#62 – KTM) says it was also the coldest morning so far.
“The 100 km liaison was bloody hard, not sure what the temperature was but it was freezing bloody cold.”
The opening section was very fast and not too rough.
Andrew says “the sand section was very nice, the dunes were also good and we rode our first really big dunes today.”
Navigation though, was very tricky and many of the lead riders came undone. Australians Toby Price (#18 – KTM) and Daniel Sanders (#4 – GasGas) both dropped time against the leaders. Sanders finished 17th today, 17 minutes behind the stage winner Joan Barreda Bort (#88 – Honda) but managed to hang on to 4th overall.
Price dropped even more time – some 26 minutes in fact – dropping him to 16th overall. He had been at the front of the pack for some time, leading through the difficult navigation and clearly made some serious that cost hime dearly.
Sam Sunderland (#3 – GasGas) still leads the rally.
Andrew Houlihan has had another consistent day and continues his steady climb up the rankings.
“I took my time again today and was happy to see the end of stage.”
He now sits 77th in the Rally 2 group after finishing 73rd today, and is 104th overall. Pablo Guillen (#35 – KTM 450 Rally), Andrew’s Nomadas Adventure Coca-Cola teammate, is 67th in Rally 2.
Today’s stage also threw some unexpected challenges to the riders, with some really dangerous sections that weren’t marked in the roadbook.
There were a few bad bike accidents during the stage. Two riders crashed heavily within 100 metres of each other, both requiring a medical helicopter.
Andrew Houlihan is also reporting that a few of the top fast cars are not sounding their alarms before passing the bike riders. Riders will not be able to hear, and sometimes not see, the vehicles approaching from behind and sounding the alarm is a required safety procedure.
“Yesterday I was almost hit by a car in the dunes, and I had another close call with a car today. Two riders were hit yesterday, both by the same vehicle!”
Even Daniel Sanders had a close call today, hitting an unexpected pile of dirt as he crossed the top of a dune. He smacked his face on the navigation tower and arrived at the bivouac with a split and swollen lip. It brings back memories of his bee incident last year!
We’re in Riyadh now, and we’re here for 4 nights.
Stage 5 looks like being very different to what we’ve been riding through up until now. The first part of the stage will be dirt tracks with rocks before it opens up into a long section of dunes. It’s a much shorter liaison at 214 km, and the special is 346 km. And of course it’ll be cold!