Spaniards Carlos Sainz and Marc Coma won the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally in their respective car and motorbike classes and retained the overall leads on Tuesday.
Sainz’s second stage win of this rally was only by six seconds over Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar, who won the first and third stages.
Sainz passed al-Attiyah but stopped when he lost pressure in a tire.
Realizing it was a slow puncture, he still managed to win the stage across Patagonia from Ingeniero Jacobacci to Neuquen.
“It’s a shame [about the tire], because I could have done better,” Sainz said.
He finished the 380km special in three hours, 42 minutes, 57 minutes in his Volkswagen. The leg was originally scheduled to be 459km, but organizers said it had to be shortened for administrative reasons.
A former two-time world champion, Sainz led al-Attiyah in his BMW by 3:46. Third overall was Giniel de Villiers of South Africa, 11:33 back. Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France was fourth, more than 15 minutes off the pace.
Argentine dust has been a feature of the course so far. A persistent drought has turned massive amounts of Argentina’s soil to dust, forcing drivers to navigate through clouds of brown dirt. Vehicles often disappeared behind dust, spraying thousands of fans who have gathered to watch along the route, now passing through isolated towns and villages in southern Argentina.
Coma won the motorbike stage in 4:09:32. Cyril Despres of France was 1:17 back in second place, followed by Jonah Street of the US, 0:04 seconds behind.
With his third stage win, Coma was 42:57 ahead of Street overall.
“Today, it was shorter but harder than the other days. It was a bit like Morocco,” Coma said.
Meanwhile, English truck driver Paul Green remained in serious condition in a local hospital after flipping his truck on Saturday.
Yesterday’s route, the fifth of 14 stages, was to be a 506km drive from Neuquen to San Rafael. The rally will finish next Sunday back in Buenos Aires.