Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally was much of the same in the motorcycle category  with Joan Barreda winning the 430 km special.  Australian Toby Price moved up to 7th overall whereas Frenchman Alain Duclos dropped off to 10th overall.
Some observations are that a lot of good guys are far back in the standings.  Guys like David Casteu  (43rd), Jordi Villadoms (23rd), Van Beveren  (20th), Brabec (17th). Most of this is from these riders either lost a lot of time for some reason or another or they are predetermined “water boys” to the guys who have a chance at the overall.
Never count these guys out though.   I remember the year Chris Blais finished 3rd overall,  Jordi Acarons was putting a lot of pressure on Chris to ride for Marc Coma, who was leading the race against Cyril Despres. With 3 or 4 stages to go. Coma crashed into a tree in Senegal and cracked his cervical vertebrae.  I remember coming to Chris at the bivouac and he said. “Doc, we’re in third! Just like that.  And Chris was as far back as 22nd place early in the rally.  Just goes to show smooth and consistent is what gets results.
Otherwise Alexander Smith is sitting 63rd and CR Gittere has moved up to 92nd. A notable American is Blythe, sitting in 44th.
Meanwhile in the cars Peugeot’s Stephane Peterhansel took the victory and moved into 2nd overall. Peter will fight hard for the victory and will keep his poker face on the entire time. Nothing rattles the guy.
I have known Stephane for many years during the Dakar Rally.   This guy has been around for a long time and can roll with the punches.   I’ve seen him when he was winning,  and I have seen him when he’s losing.   Through it all,  he’s the same guy, calm and cool.   He’s an awesome competitor.
Kellon Walch told me that the mud just killed them in stage 3. They are hanging in there, but already 1:39 back. Hopefully they will pull some stage wins…

One thing the Dakar competitors don’t have to deal with anymore is soldiers with machine guns.  At just about every African city, border crossing, small towns, there were always soldiers with guns. Below is a photo of Dakar Rally competitor, Ronn Bailey, being harassed by a Senegalese soldier at the Senegal border (2005).

Dakar 06 photos ronn6

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Doc Edwards