Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena won their first stage of this 2018 Dakar to move up to second overall. The Franco-Monegasque pairing had a solid day, without encountering any major issues on the 330-kilometre stage, which contained one of the longest non-stop desert sections in Dakar history.
Carlos Sainz’s day got off to a bad start, when he and co-driver Lucas Cruz got stuck in the sand and then picked up a puncture. Once those hurdles had been overcome, they had a solid run to the finish and set the second-fastest time on the stage, making more progress up the leaderboard to third overall.
Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret have more than doubled their lead at the head of the field, despite a tricky stage that they said was far from perfect, with a couple of small setbacks. Nonetheless, their eventual third-fastest time underlined the experienced duo’s impressive consistency.
Heartbreak for Cyril Despres/David Castera, who hit a rock halfway through the stage. Team PEUGEOT Total is currently doing everything possible to allow the car No. 308 to return to the bivouac and continue the race tomorrow, albeit with significant penalties.
CLASSIFICATION OF STAGE 4
1. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO), PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi, 3h57m53s
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP) / Lucas Cruz (ESP), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR Maxi, +1m35s
3. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi, +3m16s
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Andreas Schulz (DEU), Mini 2WD, +34m36s
5. Eugenio Amos (ITA) / Sebastien Delaunay (FRA), Buggy 2WD, +35m46s
6. Khalid Al Qassimi (ARE) / Xavier Panseri (FRA), Peugeot 3008DKR, +40m29s
7. Lucio Alvarez (ARG) / Robert Howie (ZAF), Toyota 4WD, +41m05s
8. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NED) / Michel Perin (FRA), Toyota 4WD, +42m22s
9. Yazeed Al-Rajhi (SAU) / Timo Gottschalk (DEU), Mini 2WD, +43m05s
10. Martin Prokop (CZE) / Jan Tomanek (CZE), Ford 4WD, +47m04s
CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 4
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) / Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA), PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi, 10h36m07s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MCO), PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi, +6m55s
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP) / Lucas Cruz (ESP), PEUGEOT 3008 DKR Maxi, +13m06s
4. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT) / Matthieu Baumel (FRA), Toyota 4WD, +58m48s
5. Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD) / Michel Perin (FRA), Toyota 4WD, +1h10m24s
6. Eugenio Amos (ITA) / Sebastien Delaunay (FRA), Buggy 2WD, +1h19m42s
7. Khalid Al Qassimi (ARE) / Xavier Panseri (FRA), Peugeot 3008DKR, +1h21m09s
8. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) / Dirk von Zitzewitz (ZAF), Toyota 4WD, +1h21m47s
9. Martin Prokop (CZE) / Jan Tomanek (CZE), Ford 4WD, +1h22m44s
10. Jakub Przygonski (POL) / Tom Colsoul (BEL), Mini 4WD, +1h35m30s
Sébastien LOEB (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°306)
1st on stage 4 / 2nd in overall classification
“ It was fun today: a long stage with plenty of dunes and quite a special start side by side along the beach. The terrain was tricky: the important thing was not to get stuck and I think a few people lost a bit of time in this stage. But luckily, we got through and won the stage. The incredible thing is that it was only by a minute, so we’re all still very close together and it’s really tight. Tomorrow we’ll be first on the road and the navigation will be tricky, so it will be important to stick near our team mates. ”
Carlos SAINZ (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°303)
2nd on stage 4 / 3rd in overall classification
“It was a tricky start to the day as we got stuck immediately. We lost seven or eight minutes but then we caught up with Nasser Al-Attiyah and got a puncture that we had to stop and change. Afterwards we were able to carry on and we had no further problems. As always on the Dakar, you have to be vigilant but at least end result was good for us today.”
Stéphane PETERHANSEL (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°300)
3rd on stage 4 / 1st in overall classification
“First and foremost, I’m disappointed for my friend Cyril. For my part, it was quite stressful at the beginning as we started the stage side by side: it’s never easy when it’s like that! But we were in the lead by the time we got to the first canyon and that was good because then everyone else had to cope with the dust, rather than us. After that it was good, apart from one time when the tyre came off the rim, in the middle of the dunes and we lost time changing it because there was sand in the jack. Finally, we thought we had missed a way point, together with Carlos, and we went back to try and find it. Annoyingly, we were actually right the first time. So not a perfect stage, but we’re here and at the front.”
Cyril DESPRES (PEUGEOT 3008DKR Maxi n°308)
Stop in the stage
“I’m really not sure exactly what happened. We approached gently, braked, and went over a rock that somehow kicked up and ripped off the right-rear of the car, with a lot of damage. It can be fixed, but not until late at night. We’ll have to wait for the truck. What happened is hard to compute because it’s such a slow place: not the sort of thing you would normally look out for.”
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, the winners of nine consecutive titles in the World Rally Championship, both started their careers with Peugeot. Loeb’s very first rally was in 1997 at the wheel of a Peugeot 106 Rallye, with which he contested the Volant Peugeot one-make formula. Elena started his motorsport career as a driver, also driving a Peugeot 106 Rallye on Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1997 and 1998.
STAGE 5 (Wednesday 10 January): SAN JUAN DE MARCONA > AREQUIPA. 932 kilometres, of which 267 are competitive.
The longest stage of the rally (at more than 900 km) is composed of two stages in parallel. The cars will first take on sector B (67 km) and then follow the motorcycles into sector A (200 km). This stage could be the biggest challenge of this first week. The competitors will drive for the first time through the mythical Tanaca beach, where they will have to face mountainous dunes for about thirty kilometres. The link that will bring them back to Arequipa will be the longest of the rally (508 km).