From KTM – Factory rider Cyril Despres finished second in Stage Four of the Morocco Rally to reclaim the overall lead in a dramatic day where sand storms reduced visibility hindering navigation and his main rival and yesterday’s leader retiring with engine problems.
The entire field was shaken up in the fourth stage and eventual stage winner, KTM’s Kuba Przgonski was the one who triumphed in very difficult conditions, coming home in three hours 28.44, two minutes 27 ahead of Despres. With Marc Coma out with a dislocated shoulder after yesterday’s crash and the overall leader Helder Rodrigues of Portugal out today with engine problems, the way is now clear for Despres to make his mark on the remaining days.
Riders tackled about 250 km of tough desert riding with a mix of rocky piste and sand dunes but it was the notorious sand storms that gave them the most problems with very poor visibility. This resulted in a significant reshuffle of the leader board, which saw many of the top ten riders up to now drop down the order. The difficult conditions could also be a problem for the lead riders in tomorrow’s stage. It covers a lot of the same territory and is about the same distance. Przgonski is in charge of opening the track, not an enviable job given the sand storm situation.
From Speedbrain Husky – The fourth stage of the Morocco Rally proved to be particularly tricky due to the constant changes in terrain which included soft sand, stony ground and the light but treacherous dust know as “fesh fesh”. The Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain knew straight away that they were going to be in for a hazard-filled day. It was Paulo Goncalves who bore the brunt of the bad luck when just twenty kilometres into the special test had to turn back to get his rear wheel changed after a heavy collision with a big stone. This setback cost Goncalves dearly coming in 43 minutes behind the stage winner and dropping to eighth place in the overall standings.
Barreda also paid dearly for a directional error finishing the stage in tenth position but moved up a place in the overall classification thanks to a technical hitch with Rodrigues’ engine. Joan now holds second overall place behind Despres. Matt Fish continues to get positive results and after today’s stage moves up into the top ten in the overall standings. Tomorrow see the penultimate stage of the rally with 246 km (154 miles) of special test and a transfer of 181 km.
Joan Barreda: “Today really was a tough stage. So much navigation! There was loads of dust and terrain that constantly changed. But on the whole I’m happy not to have made any big mistakes or crashes, even if I loosed some time from the leader and to be second in the overall standing”.
Paulo Goncalves: “Today was a day to forget for me. 20 km into the special test I realized that I had a broken back wheel and I had to race back for assistance as quickly as possible but lost a lot of time. Then I found that there were so many riders up ahead that it was impossible to make up any time. There’s always something to learn in this race. Anything can happen but you learn from it”.
American Johnny Campbell is still running well, he stopped to help with his teammates some today and that cost him some time.
South Africans Darryl Curtis and Riaan Van-Niekerk ar both running well. You might remember them from our Romaniacs coverage. From Darryl “Disaster this morning when we got lost, we did an extra 20 kms with Gonzalves and Pedrero, not a great day, sandstorm at the end”.
While the much publicized Honda team struggles, the Yamaha’s of Verhoeven and Pain have quietly worked their way to the top of the board.
Mixed results for the Speedbrain Husky’s, but all three riders still in top 10 and Barreda still in contention for win.