Meanwhile, Sebastien Buhler has broken into the top 20, while C S Santosh and Joaquim Rodrigues continue chipping away at the competition and bettering their overall standings
Stage four of the 2020 Dakar Rally covered a total distance of 672km from Neom towards Al Ula (including the 453km special stage), and consisted of a mix of sandy stretches, canyons, wadi crossings and gravel sections, which meant the riders had to stay alert and preserve their bikes.
Having spent the entire day in the desert and arriving late in the night, Paulo “Speedy” Goncalves, being a top 12 rider in the previous stage, exercised his right to choose his starting position and opted to start the stage at the 26th position, from where he set a blazing fast pace, finishing the stage in the fourth position, taking himself from 110th to 77th in the overall rankings.
And, Goncalves’ efforts were not a one-off, as teammate Sebastian Buhler also put in his best, finishing the stage at the 21st spot, which now brings him three places up (he was at 23rd place overall after stage three) and within the top 20 in the overall standings.
C S Santosh, too, rode with a good rhythm as he brought the stage home in 44thplace, which was an improvement over his 50th place finish in the previous stage, bringing him up to 42nd place in the overall rankings. While all his teammates are fighting for an overall position, Joaquim Rodrigues seems to be on a campaign to better his own performance with every stage, putting on a strong show and improving his previous stage’s ranking of 31, with a 23rd place finish today.
For the next stage, the rally will move to the city of Ha’il covering a total distance of 564 kms including a 353 km special section.
Paulo Goncalves (Comp No. 8) said, “Today was definitely better than yesterday. I started the stage well but for first 100km there was a lot of dust so I didn’t push much to avoid any risks. After the refuelling point the stage opened up wide and then I took my chance to push harder. In the end, I had a small crash that kind of woke me up. It was a long stage with a lot of navigation so I am happy to bring back a good stage result for the team and myself. It’s good for motivation after yesterday and also for my team who had put in a lot of work to get the bike ready for today. My plan is to take the rally stage by stage and try to give my best possible every day. ”
Sebastian Buhler (Comp No: 32) said, “It was a very tough and long stage with fast tracks and lot of stones. Towards the finish, the navigation was very difficult so I rode slowly to avoid any mistakes and catch all the waypoints. Overall, I think I did quite well to finish the stage today. ”
CS Santosh (Comp No: 50) said, “It was a really long and cold day. For me the stage was pretty good overall. In the beginning, there was a lot of dust so I waited to push ahead. The stage was quite difficult but I had a lot of fun today, made considerable time except for a small mistake I made before the refuelling point where I lost my way a bit. Overall my hand is feeling better and stronger, and I am looking forward to the next couple of days at the Dakar.”
Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No. 27) said, “The first part was dusty again as it has been since the first stage but overall it was a good stage. I tried to push in the beginning and was able to pass a couple of guys in the front, which felt really good. I got lost in the messy nodes between the canyons before the refuel point and lost some time there. Then I decided to focus on my cap readings and managed to get back on the right track. Towards the end, also I lost some time in finding the secret waypoint but in the end it was a good training, and my speed was also good so I am happy with that.