Dakar - Cars - Stage 4
BMW X3CC driver Nasser Al Attiyah is not giving up, and the Volkswagen team's Carlos Sainz can feel it as each stage of the Dakar Rally goes by.
According to the observers sitting high above in the helicopters, the duel between the Qatari and
the Spaniard was something to see during today's fourth stage of the event as each raced across the 459-kilometre distance between Jacobacci and Neuquen in Argentina.
Sainz is not very pleased with the situation however: he is being forced to drive hard constantly, and the experience gathered during four previous Dakars has shown him that this endurance race demands regular speed at first, then a change of pace afterwards.
That is the system used by Mitsubishi drivers Alphand and Roma, with Peterhansel being the team's leading driver. Three Lancers remain in the race following Masuoka's retirement due to engine trouble on the very first day.
"I think Carlos Sainz overtook me just before we reached the 100km mark. After that, I followed on his tail and we raced up to the finish," reported Al Attiyah, who crossed the finish line six seconds from the stage-winning Spaniard.
"It's a good thing he won the stage," he joked.
"He'll start ahead of me tomorrow so he'll serve as my rabbit!"
For his part, Sainz explained how the pressure was applied in more ways than one: "We started very well and very quickly. We soon caught up with Nasser Al Attiyah; when he realized it was us, he counter-attacked and we both continued to race at a very speedy pace until I was able to overtake (him) on an off-track section."
"Just afterwards I started losing air from a tyre. I had to stop and pump it back up, because it wasn't a flat tire, just a slow puncture," he elaborated. "I think I arrived with only half a kilo of pressure and must have won by just 5 of 6 seconds!"
"I could have done better," rally leader Sainz added. He now stands 3:46 ahead of his overall second-placed rival. Both men are making for a great story on this rally.
Meanwhile, Luc Alphand ended the day by reaching third position on this stage, thereby setting a different manufacturer on each step of today's podium – a first since this year's adventure began.