Four times Dakar winner Cyril Despres of the Red Bull KTM factory team continued to ride at his own pace in Tuesday’s Stage Four on his KTM 450 Rally bike, sacrificing a few minutes to finish third in the overall standings but saving energy for the long and strenuous ride ahead.
Despres, not only an exceptional rider but also a great tactician said he had backed off a little in the stage, which gave those behind a chance to gain some time. “It’s not the first time this happens,” he said at the end of the stage. “But don’t worry about me, I’m racing my way. I’ve been riding at a high pace for three days, but not flat out, which helps me to save energy and avoid pushing the motorcycle to the limit. When you start at the back and go like crazy all day long, you ride in the dust, so if you later have mechanical problems, it won’t be down to just bad luck… The rally’s still long and I ride at my pace!”
Despres may have coasted in after the day’s ride at fifteenth place but he is only three minutes 09 behind the overall leader and feeling comfortable after what was a tough 720 km total ride in Tuesday’s stage. Organizers had planned it to be the reverse of a stage from last year’s edition and it included a tricky 2 km downhill slide in the first third of the special.
Fastest KTM factory rider in Stage Four was Despres’ support rider Ruben Faria who finished in sixth place 12:18 behind today’s stage leader Joan Barreda of Spain. Other riders from the two KTM factory teams included Jakub Przygonski in ninth, South Africa’s Riaan Van Niekerk in eleventh, American Kurt Caselli in seventeenth, Darryl Curtis of South Africa in twenty second and Joan Pedrero in twenty third. Faria is also now sixth overall 8:39 behind the leader and Przygonski is well placed at tenth with a deficit of 14:20, including a five-minute penalty.
Stage Five takes riders from Arequipa to Arica on the border with Chile over a total distance of 411 km – a liaison of 275 km and 136 km of timed special.
Image courtesy KTM