Stage 4: Despres Slips in Classification

Dakar 2014

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Stage 4 of the 2014 Dakar saw Juan Pedrero take his maiden win at the end of a special which dealt Cyril Despres' prospects a severe blow. The Frenchman slipped down the general classification after conceding over 40 minutes to his rivals. Carlos Sainz, who turned the race on its head after spending the entire stage on the attack, grabbed the win and leapfrogged Roma to take the overall lead.

Click here for the clip of stage 4

After a few stages in which he had let Joan Barreda steal the limelight during Francisco "Chaleco" López decided enough was enough and pounded his fist on the table during the fourth special, part two of the motorcycles' marathon stage. The Chilean rider pulled out all the stops from the beginning and led the way at each CP. Even though it was not good enough for a twelfth Dakar stage win, his strong ride allowed him to claw back lots of time. Meanwhile, Spain's Joan Barreda lost precious minutes due to a navigation error, although he managed to limit the damage by pushing his motorcycle hard towards the end. He now holds a slim lead in the general classification, 3′10″ ahead of Marc Coma, who produced a virtuoso performance in today's stage. Just behind them on the course was Juan Pedrero, who showed he has outgrown his previous role as Marc Coma's lieutenant at KTM by lighting the fireworks and bringing his Sherco across the finish line 29″ faster than López. The Catalan rider, no longer an overall threat, took his maiden Dakar win in Chilecito.

The fourth day of the 2014 Dakar was also a rude awakening for some of the big names, including the defending champion himself. Cyril Despres maintained an ideal pace throughout most of the stage but blew up with about 12 kilometres to go and could only watch as his rivals and other nearby riders disappear into the distance. The five-time winner now has a 41-minute deficit to Barreda in the general classification. With a history of amazing comebacks, it is too early to write Despres off, but his task has just become even more difficult than he had imagined. A real downer for sure, but Despres was still luckier than stage 2 winner Sam Sunderland, who had to give up after the engine of his Honda broke down.


Joan Barreda Bort: I saved the day. Everything seemed to be going smoothly but, towards the end of the stage, I think I misunderstood an entry in the roadbook. I took a wrong turn with 70-80 km to go. I'll have to double-check it later, because yesterday I read the roadbook several times and it said we had to go in this direction. We'll see, I lost lots of time because I had to backtrack and then I took a wrong turn. But it's because that's what the roadbook said. I read it properly. It's a lot of time, 20 to 25 minutes. I don't know what to say. Then, I got into a rocky area. It was tough. I was nervous. But I have to look on the bright side. I saved the day. I have to keep going and improving. Tomorrow will be another day, and both I and the motorcycle will be in good shape. Everything will go well.

Marc Coma: It was an excruciating stage. Yesterday was already tough, and today it was more of the same. The rain over the last few days meant you couldn't see the tracks at all. Actually, that wasn't what made today's stage difficult, rather, it was the ease with which people made mistakes. We found the right way and I was able to push hard towards the end. It's a very long rally. We knew the first week would be gruelling. You have to be consistent and take it one stage at a time. Cyril? You can never discount him. He's won this race five times. He knows what it's about. Anything can happen in this race.

Fancisco Lopez Contardo: I need dunes.  The tyres held up well. Everything went well in the marathon stage.  But it was very tough.  Yesterday was a technical tricky stage. Today, it was one river after another.  I need dunes, I need deserts…

Report from

KTM Australia’s Ben Grabham is out of the Dakar Rally after crashing in the fourth stage of the event between San Juan and Chilecito. 

The 32-year-old winner of at least 30 Australian titles in various forms of off-road motorcycling encountered a drop-off in thick dust and fell heavily, before being taken to hospital for examination in Argentina where he was subsequently released. 

General Manager of KTM Australia Jeff Leisk said the fall was most likely a result of yesterday’s misfortune, in which Grabham – while running third in the stage - was one of four riders to follow a lead competitor down a wrong turn and got badly stuck on a steep mountainside. 

The difficulty compounded when one rider crashed heavily, and Grabham and two others waited with the injured rider while he was airlifted to safety. 

The chain of events dropped Grabham from 9th outright to 32nd place, and left him many slower riders to pass in dangerous, dusty conditions. 

“Ben’s had to ride through a lot of dust today and found a big drop and gone over the front,” said Leisk, himself a former World Motocross Vice Champion. “I’ve received a small amount of information and it looks like he’s hit his head and is pretty battered and bruised. 

"He had to get checked out but seems to have nothing broken. “Obviously he’s extremely disappointed to have his Dakar end in this manner. 

"I was concerned when he had his setback yesterday because it puts the rider in the position of having to take calculated risks to keep moving forward. We’ve all done it - but the most important thing is that he seems okay, so I’m very relieved about that.” Leisk added. 

Above Image: KTM Australian racer Grabham has been forced to retire from the 2014 Dakar Rally after a stage four crash   Credit: Maindru

Report from

Samsung Sherco Rally Factory’s Juan Pedrero Garcia finished Stage 4 of the 2014 Dakar Rally at the top of the timesheet, navigating the 218-mile special stage in just under five-and-a-half hours. He was followed by KTM’s Chaleco Lopez in second-place and Lopez’s teammate, Marc Coma, in third. Team HRC’s Joan Barreda retains the overall lead, however, but his advantage was significantly cut following his sixth-place finish in Stage 4. Coma is now second overall, a little over three minutes behind. Lopez moved up the ranks as well, and now sits third overall.

Stage 4 marked the final half of the first marathon stage of the 2014 Dakar and was delayed by two hours to allow riders more time to prepare for the day after a difficult Stage 3. Lopez was sixth to leave the start line, but he quickly made up time on the leaders and was in first-place by Checkpoint 1. He was followed by Garcia’s teammate, Alain Duclos, in second and Coma in third. KTM’s David Casteu and Jordi Villadoms were also strong during the initial miles, but both would later run into trouble and fall outside the top-10 for the stage.

Lopez continued to lead at CP2 and Duclos was holding strong to second, but Coma and Speedbrain’s Jeremias Israel Esquerre were just minutes behind. Garcia began to make up significant ground in this portion as well. The Sherco rider started in 43rd place at the start of the day but by CP3 had moved into second-place and was less than one minute behind Lopez. Garcia continued to push to the finish and ended 29 seconds faster than Lopez, earning his first stage win of the 2014 Dakar.

Esquerre remained steady to the finish, taking fourth and earning his best result of the rally so far. Yamaha’s Oliver Pain finished fifth with Barreda following in sixth. Barreda’s teammate, Paulo Goncalves, took seventh.

Barreda was in contention for another top-three finish but a navigation error near the end of the route cost him valuable time.

“I was going well in the stage, until about 80 km from the end when I took a wrong turning after seeing a note at the river crossing,” explained Barreda. “I’d spent a long time yesterday going over the road book which also indicated another way. I lost a lot of time. I went back to the same place, and then took the same wrong direction. I fell while I was trying to make up the lost time. But the good thing is that I’ve been able to salvage something out it... I lost a bit of time, but we continue to be ahead. Tomorrow is another day and we will try and rectify everything.” 

Defending Dakar champion, Cyril Despres of Factory Yamaha, was riding strong for much of the stage but while nearing the finish line his engine failed, costing him over 40 minutes on the leader. The French rider ultimately finished the stage in 16th, dropping him to sixth in the overall standings. Barreda’s teammate, Sam Sunderland, was also hit with engine troubles, and was forced to drop out of the race. The team is currently investigating what happened to Sunderland’s engine, which stopped running during the liason.

Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 4: San Juan to Chilecito Results 
1. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 5:29:13 
2. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 5:29:42 
3. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 5:32:23 
4. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 5:35:43 
5. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 5:36:14 
6. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 5:43:09 
7. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 5:47:51 
8. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 5:48:43 
9. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 5:52:26 
10. Daniel Gouet, CHL (Honda) 5:53:51

Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Standings after Stage 4 
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 15:39:53 
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 15:43:03 
3. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 15:45:05 
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 16:05:48 
5. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 16:09:31 
6. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 16:21:10 
7. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 16:22:10 
8. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 16:26:26 
9. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 16:29:07 
10. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 16:34:45
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