Stage 4 of the 2021 Dakar Rally has been filled with ups and downs, becoming the most disputed so far in this year’s event. The battle was on from the start, with the four top drivers in the standings setting off and being separated by only a minute throughout the stage. Stephan Peterhansel and his MINI came in second in the stage being slower than the winner by only 11 seconds but maintaining the lead overall.
The 337-km stage from Wadi Ad Dawasir to Riyadh was won by Al-Attiyah and his Toyota. It wasn’t an all out win though. Carlos Sainz pushed hard from the start, leading the stage up until the second waypoint, fighting to make up for the 31 minutes lost in the first stage. The lead went then to Al-Attiyah who was overtaken by his teammate, Hank Lategan up until the sixth waypoint. This is where the former three-time champion retook the lead and won the stage with 11 seconds to spare to the runner up, Stephan Peterhansel in his MINI buggy.
Sainz had a bit of bad luck yet again and, even though he was just 31 seconds behind the winner of the stage at the penultimate checkpoint, he had a poor run towards the end and drifted down to fifth place, with 2 minutes and 26 seconds behind the winning Toyota. Even though Peterhansel came in second yet again, the Frenchman is leading the overall standings still, without having claimed a stage win since the rally kicked off.
The difference between the MINI X-Raid buggy and the Toyota Hilux in second place is smaller now though, under five minutes. The third place overall is now held by Sainz who is 36 minutes and 19 seconds behind his teammate from X-Raid. Sebastien Loeb is now fourth, making up for a terrible start in the rally, 48 minutes from the top spot.