The fourth stage of the Dakar took place at altitude, with a profile that never dropped below 800 metres and sometimes climbed up to 1,300 metres. The cool weather accompanied the riders, drivers and crews on this 425 km long loop to the west of Ha’il. The previous day’s rain significantly changed the nature of the terrain, but not the beauty of the canyons and plateaux visited by the route of the day’s special. Tricky navigation in places was one of the challenges as were the dunes that made a plentiful appearance on the day’s programme
Juan Morera and Lidia Ruba should not regret giving up their Fiat Panda from last year and switching to a Toyota HDJ80 for their second participation in the Dakar Classic. The Spaniards remain in the lead ahead of three Belgian crews, also equipped with Japanese 4x4s in H3, for vehicles with the highest average. Tomorrow morning, the competitors in the lesser H0 and H1 categories, in often less recent and therefore lower performing vehicles, will tackle two faster regularity tests in which they will have a better chance of expressing themselves. In the afternoon, they will return to the bivouac to take a breather and restore their vehicles to health if they so wish, while the H2 and H3 vehicles will have to deal with two 40 km “dune tests”, which will be the biggest portion that awaits them between now and Dammam. Two programmes at opposite ends of the spectrum!