LIMA, Peru (Swing Update) – Pilot Nasser Al-Attiyah and rider Ricky Brabec dominated the fourth leg of the Dakar Rally on Thursday to lead their category overall.
Al-Attiyah boosted his lead by almost nine minutes over Stéphane Peterhansel after almost two minutes over the French side on the 351-kilometer stretch of valleys and fesh-fesh – fine dust – between Arequipa and Tacna.
"It was very important to catch Stéphane and stay with him all the time," said Al-Attiyah.
In three decades, the most difficult rally in the world has allowed Peterhansel to support the fesh-fesh.
"It's like powder, it gets into the car and we do not see anything," he said.
He has seen enough to be the only driver within 20 minutes of the Qatari leader.
Nani Roma was 21 minutes behind third place, followed by Jakub Przygonski (22 minutes), Yazeed Al Rajhi (almost 25 minutes) and Sébastien Loeb (50 minutes), who suffered three punctures and a flattened finish.
As this was a marathon stage, the pilots could not receive assistance or repairs from their crews. This means that Al Rajhi, second in the overall standings overnight, suffered when he had to stop near the end. Former champion Giniel de Villiers also lost more time when he stopped to help the damaged Toyota teammate Bernhard Ten Brinke.
After getting lost on Wednesday, Brabec climbed the fourth stage to perfection and increased his gap with the motorcycle world the longer the step was.
On arrival in Tacna, the American was six minutes ahead of defending champion Matthias Walkner and the new leader in the overall standings.
Pablo Quintanilla started the day as the leader of the overall standings by 11 comfortable minutes, but lost everything to beat Brabec by two minutes in second.
Toby Price finished third, four minutes later, and Sam Sunderland just behind him after a fall.
Walkner, 21 minutes from Wednesday, advanced to nine minutes with six stages to go.