The Indian contingent showed some strong form in Stage 4 of the 2020 Dakar Rally with Hero MotoSports’ Paulo Goncalves and Sherco TVS’ Johnny Aubert and Lorenzo Santolino finishing in the top 10. Covering a mammoth 672Km (including a 453Km timed section) from Neom to the historic city of Al-‘Ula, the stage comprised a good mix of sandy stretches and gravel sections mostly on tracks.
Portuguese rally veteran Goncalves had to make up for lost time following a punishing Stage 3 that took him over 10 hours to complete due to an engine issue. However, he’s bounced back in top form, completing Stage 4 in 4th place to secure his best finish so far in the 2020 Dakar Rally. However, he’s yet down in 79th place in the general classification owing to his Stage 3 mishap.
Sebastian Buhler continued his consistent run and completed the stage in 21st place to now move up to 20th place in the overall rankings. Joaquim Rodrigues, who is now running in the Dakar Experience class and thereby can’t record an overall result, secured a 23rd place stage result.
Meanwhile, the sole Indian rider yet in the running, CS Santosh, also gained positions in the overall ranking. A 44th place stage finish has moved him up to 42nd place overall. “It was a really long and cold day. For me the stage was pretty good overall. In the beginning, there was a lot of dust so I waited to push ahead. The stage was quite difficult but I had a lot of fun today, made considerable time except for a small mistake I made before the refuelling point where I lost my way a bit. Overall my hand is feeling better and stronger, and I am looking forward to the next couple of days at the Dakar,” he said.
Sherco TVS had all three of its surviving riders finish in the top 15. Johnny Aubert proceeded with caution and it is a tactic that paid off since he managed to complete the stage in 7th place. The result helps him gain two places in overall ranking and he now stands 16th. Lorenzo Santolino finished in 10th place and he’s now 14th overall. Adrien Metge, meanwhile secured a 15th place stage result to move up to 11th place overall.
Harith Noah may be out of the running to record an overall result, but he’s yet competing under the newly introduced Dakar Experience class. The Indian rider managed to complete Stage 4 in 48th place.
Honda rider Ricky Brabec still holds on to the overall lead in the bike category, but it is his team-mate Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo who took top honours in Stage 4. Florimo inherited the stage win after KTM’s Sam Sunderland was handed a penalty for excess speed. In the car category, Stephane Peterhansel ended up winning the stage, while Carlos Sainz yet holds on to the overall lead. However, Nasser Al-Attiyah managed to cut into Sainz’s lead and now trails him by just over three minutes.
Overall results after Stage 4
20. Sebastian Buhler
42. CS Santosh
79. Paulo Goncalves
11. Adrien Metge
14. Lorenzo Santolino
16. Johnny Aubert