What could not be done the day before was achieved in Stage 4. Ales Loprais controlled the stage from the very beginning won the stage.
400 kilometers in the Kalmykian desert created the toughest stage so far in the rally. Even the greatest stars of the car category were barely searching for words after they had finished. It was a stage of truly Dakar parameters. Stephane Peterhansel had problems to remember when he had driven a six-hour special for the last time. The daily menu was clear: soft sands with numerous densely scattered small dunes full of jumps and bumps in a very irregular rhythm. In addition to that, there were dusty trails as well. All who have finished were ready for a physiotherapist and also the pilot of InstaForex Loprais Team looked for one.
Ales gradually took the course of the stage to his own hands. He took the lead from the very beginning. He passed all competitors who had started in front of him, except for three cars. At both CPs he was extending the lead and from CP2 he continued the stage together with both Kamaz trucks of Karginov and Kabirov. It is Ales' second stage win at Silk Way rally – the first one was earned in 2009 in the stage to Turkmenbashi.
"What else can I say. We succeeded today and I am obviously happy, big thanks go to our mechanics who had not slept for two nights and this last night finally got some sleep. Today, there were no repairs, unnecessary stops or navigational mishaps, which is good. Though the stage was truly extremely grueling and navigation-wise really complicated. It looks like they want to shatter us here. The stage was full of bumps and our spines, necks and bottoms really suffered a lot. I am going t find a physiotherapist immediately and tomorrow's stage will be long and hard, too. In the end of the stage, we drove in a dust cloud of Karginov who did not let us pass and so we did not want to take too many risks," Ales Loprais said. He climbs back to 3rd overall, with only 2m40s adrift of Karginov. Hans Stacey did not have a perfect stage and fell to the fourth place.
The stage returned Russian participants back to the game. Ayrat Mardeev did a good job again and climbed all the way to sixth overall while his father, Ilgizar, already appears in top 10. A small loss was incurred by Franz Echter, on the other hand a stable position was maintained by Peter Versluis (in the lead at CP1!) and Johan Elfrink. Another good performance was achieved by the Liaz of Jaroslav Valtr while another Czech Tatra of Marek Spacil sadly quit after a crash.
No smooth day can be reported by Bonver Dakar Team with Tomas Vratny whose Tatra tipped on the side today. "The stage was really extremely difficult with numerous small dunes. At one curve we were too long and tipped the truck on a side. After 30 minutes, it was the Tatra of the Svoboda Team to help us back on wheels, many thanks for that! Our Tatra suffered some cosmetic damages but we keep going. The next stage will be long and tough as well," driver Tomas Vratny said.
Really, the next stage from Astrakhan to Stavropol will include almost a 700-kilmeter special whose beginning part will be driven in the Kalmykian desert and the rest on Russian steppes with numerous paths zig-zagging each other in a tricky manner. Such long specials are hardly seen even at the big Dakar these days.