Sainz Wins Thrilling Battle with Al-Attiyah in Dakar's Stage 4

Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von ZitzewitzCarlos SainzGiniel de Villiers/Dirk von ZitzewitzMark Miller/Ralph PitchfordGiniel de Villiers/Dirk von ZitzewitzCarlos Sainz/Michel PérinDieter Depping/Timo GottschalkDakar Rally
Carlos Sainz won Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally after a thrilling battle with Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Spaniard did not leave his rival's win a day before unanswered and clinched the 459-km special from Jacobacci to Neuquen only seconds ahead of the BMW driver.

Sainz started yesterday's stage with the sole purpose of increasing his lead over Al-Attiyah in the overall standings. The Spaniard got into the lead early in the stage and looked like he was going to easily put some minutes behind him and the Qatari at the end of the day (considering he even overtook the BMW driver in the mid-stage).

However, things got complicated in the last part of the stage as slow puncture forced Sainz to stop for inflating the tires. Al-Attiyah made the best of it and caught up with the leader on the last kilometers of the day. However, Sainz kept calm and eventually managed to cross the finish line first, only 6 seconds ahead of his rival.

“We began going pretty fast, and then we reached Nasser and he realized we were behind and start to attack a lot and we continued both at the very good pace. Then I overtook him outside the track but I started to lose pressure in one of the tires and I had to stop to inflate it because it was a slow puncture. It kept losing pressure until the end of the stage and I think I was left with just half a kilo of pressure and we won by five or six seconds. It's a shame,” said Sainz.

“I think Carlos Sainz overtook me just before we reached the 100-km mark. After that, I followed on his tail and we raced up to the finish. It's not a problem that he won the stage. It's even a good thing for me that he will be leading the way for a stage where there should be sand dunes. I damaged the car a bit because there were plenty of trees and also a lot of overtaking to get past the bikers. So, we hit the odd tree, but fortunately it's nothing serious. This Dakar is really going well and we're right where we want to be!” added second place Al-Attiyah.

The stage win helped the Spaniard match Al-Attiyah's winning record in the 2009 Dakar Rally (both having won 2 stages in Argentina). Sainz' lead over the Qatari in the overall standings increased to 3 minutes and 46 seconds. The duo is clearly favorite to take the title fight to the end, as 3rd place Giniel de Villiers lost another 5 minutes and 48 seconds and now rests more than 11 minutes off the pace in the overall classification.

Here are yesterday's stage results in the Dakar Rally (car):

1. Sainz Volkswagen             3h42:57
2. Al Attiyah BMW                 + 0:6
3. Alphand Mitsubishi            + 2:24
4. Miller Volkswagen              + 4:20
5. Roma Mitsubishi                + 5:38
6. De Villiers Volkswagen      + 5:48
7. Terranova BMW                 + 6:49
8. Peterhansel Mitsubishi       + 6:54
9. Chicherit BMW                   + 10:31
10. Gordon Hummer              + 12:13
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