To mark the 2017 Dakar Rally’s arrival in Bolivia, the organisers laid on a leg that placed significant emphasis on tight navigation. Despres/Castera didn’t put a foot wrong, however, and they went on to claim their first fastest stage time on the event since their switch to four wheels. The Peugeot 3008DKR pair are the new overnight leaders, ahead of team-mates Peterhansel/Cottret.
After the delays they suffered on Wednesday, Cyril Despres and David Castera bounced back to win today’s test which put both driving and navigational skills in the spotlight. The former bikers appeared at the top of the order by Waypoint 3 and then held their lead all the way to the finish in Tupiza, Bolivia. It was Despres’ first Dakar stage victory after 33 wins on two wheels. The Frenchman is the new overnight leader, with a margin of 4m8s over Stéphane Peterhansel.
Last night’s leaders Loeb/Elena were the day’s early pace-setters before a loss of power handicapped them through the dunes between Waypoints 1 and 2. They came to a halt on two occasions but eventually succeeded in making repairs to the engine of the N°309 3008DKR to post the day’s fifth-best effort. Despite losing a good half-hour, the Franco/Monegasque crew is currently fourth overall (+22m23s).
Just as it looked as though he was going to inherit the lead, Carlos Sainz rolled five kilometres from the end of today’s stage. Happily, the crew escaped unhurt and was able to complete the test.
Stage 3 victors Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret were delayed by navigational difficulties. After straying off course, the Frenchman were caught out in a river bed and had to change a damaged wheel. Despite the time loss, they succeeded in climbing one place to go second in this evening’s overall standings.
TYPE OF TERRAIN : average altitude: 3500 metres / dunes / many junctions.
CONDITIONS : challenging navigation
TEMPERATURE : between 24°C and 28°C
AVERAGE SPEED : 113kph
TOP SPEED : 186kph
CLASSIFICATION – LEG 4:
1. DESPRES Cyril (FR) / David CASTERA (FR), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, 4h22m55s
2. HIRVONEN Mikko (FIN) / PERIN Michel (FR), MINI, +10m51s
3. ROMA Nani (SP) / HARO BRAVO Alex (SP), TOYOTA, +12min51s
4. PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FR) / COTTRET J-P. (FR), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, +15m15s
5. LOEB Sébastien (FR) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, +22m13s
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER LEG 4:
1. DESPRES Cyril (FR) / David CASTERA (FR), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, 11h33m16s
2. PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FR) / COTTRET J-P. (FR), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, +4m8s
3. HIRVONEN Mikko (FIN) / PERIN Michel (FR), Mini, +5m4s
4. LOEB Sébastien (FRA) / ELENA Daniel (MON), PEUGEOT 3008DKR, +6m48s
5. ROMA Nani (ESP) / HARO BRACO Alex (ESP), Toyota Hi-Lux, +10m30s
“Cyril Despres and David Castera produced a perfect performance today and their reward was their first fastest stage time on four wheels on the Dakar. That has promoted them to the top of the provisional order. We have never lost sight of the fact that the Dakar is an event that lasts two weeks and we are likely to see more of the drama we have witnessed these past two days. To see what I mean, you only have to look at what happened today to Carlos, Stéphane and Sébastien who formed the top three when action resumed this morning. This event is by no means over and we have no intention of taking our eye off the ball.”
Cyril Despres (PEUGEOT 3008DKR #307)
Leg 4: 1st / Overall: 1st
"The first part of the stage was quite complex, with thick undergrowth that made the tracks hard to see. David did an excellent job on the navigation side, though, with no mistakes. We then ran behind Carlos for the majority of the day and that helped us to keep up a good pace. We are delighted with our day. Winning this stage has a very special flavour to it after spending two-and- half years coming to grips with driving on four wheels!"
Stéphane Peterhansel (PEUGEOT 3008DKR #300)
Leg 4: 4th / Overall: 2nd
"The dunes were hard packed so they weren’t a big issue, but we got a little lost just as we were about to switch to more flowing ground. As we tried to veer back onto the right track, we fell into a big pothole, damaging the steering and a front wheel. It was only a small navigational error but it proved quite costly. This event isn’t over yet, though. Okay, we’re not leading, but we’re not far behind and there’s still a long way to go."
Sébastien Loeb (PEUGEOT 3008DKR #309)
Leg 4: 5th / Overall: 4th
"It turned out to be a tough day and I was happy to see the finish. It was a nice surprise to learn that Cyril was fastest today. He was the furthest behind us this morning, so that means we are still more or less in contention despite the problems we suffered today. In total, we must have spent around half- an-hour parked up. Daniel was doing a solid job with the navigation when the car suddenly came to a halt. I did a system reset which got us moving again, but we stopped a second time. We took the rear cover off and attempted to make repairs. A squirt of penetrating oil got us going again. We didn’t drop that much time but I am obviously disappointed, even though we aren’t that far behind."