The 2019 Dakar is now well into the marathon stages. Stage 4 started from Arequipa and finished at Moquegua and was 511 kilometres long with 405 kilometres in the special section. It was perhaps the toughest challenge that the participants faced at the 2019 Dakar yet. To finish the stage, one needed to be smart enough to keep oneself and the machine, keeping it steady throughout. The 1st half of the Marathon stage comprised a mix of 70 per cent soft terrain along with the dreaded fesh-fesh and about 30 per cent of stage 4 consisted of gravel and stony terrain. Tackling the fesh-fesh was the toughest challenge, especially for moto riders as the fine powdery dust took a heavy toll on both the man and machine.
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Oriol Mena from Team Hero continued his fine run and finished the stage in 11th position finishing 17 minutes and 16 seconds behind overall leader Ricky Brabec of Honda, who finished the stage with a time of 3 hours, 40 minutes and 30 seconds. Mena is now at 12th position overall at the end of stage 4. Joaquim Rodrigues started the stage at the back and rode cautiously for the first part of the Marathon, as the dust from the faster riders made it almost impossible to push ahead without taking unwanted risks. After the neutralisation though, the more technical section kicked in and it allowed him to gain several positions to finish the stage in the 30th place, enabling him to retain his overnight ranking 31st in the overall standings. CS Santosh too had a cautious run, aiming to get the bike and himself in a good condition to the Marathon stage considering that no assistance will be available to attend to the bikes and the riders. He finished the stage in 51st place and stands 44th in the overall standings.
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After the end of Stage 4, Oriol Mena said, "The first part of the stage up to the neutralization was extremely fast. I got into a nice rhythm and rode with the leading group for most of the first part. After the neutralization, I decided to ride with more caution in the fesh-fesh and the stony sections to avoid unnecessary risks. Happy to check-in my bike in perfect condition in the Marathon Bivouac and looking forward to the motocross style start tomorrow! "
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Sherco TVS' Lorenzo Santolino is the rookie to watch out for! He finished Stage four in 10th position, just 10 seconds faster than Oriol Mena. Santolino and Mena were neck to neck and going forward, the battle to enter top 10 will only make things interesting! Brothers Michael and Adrien Metge too showed grit along with consistency and finished the stage in 17th and 21st position and remain on 16th and 26th position overall, carried over from the last stage. Lastly, Aravind KP too kept a calm head and brought home his Sherco 450 RR rally bike in 78th position and keeping the 64th position overall.
Stage 5 will see the moto and quad riders going back to Arequipa from Moquegua with total of 776 kilometres and 345 kilometres of special stage. After that, participants will have a rest day as the first week of Dakar 2019 comes to a close.