Dakar 2018, Stage 4: Sunderland out, van Beveren leads

Yamaha’s Adrian van Beveren has taken the lead of the 2018 Dakar Rally in the bikes category after winning a stage that claimed defending champion Sam Sunderland. KTM rider Sunderland had to be evacuated by helicopter after suffering an accident on Tuesday’s 330km San Juan de Marcona test, having held a lead of over four minutes at the head of the overall standings with two wins in the opening three stages of the rally.

Sam Sunderland

The Briton sustained a back injury in the crash that was severe enough for doctors to rule out his continued participation in the event.

Sunderland’s exit has shaken up the order in the general classification, which is now led by van Beveren after the Frenchman secured his second career Dakar stage win by five minutes.

Riders began the stage en masses in groups of 15 departing at five-minute intervals, and it was those starting the second bunch – including van Beveren – that led the way for the majority of the stage.

Van Beveren and erstwhile rally leader Honda rider Joan Barreda hit the sixth waypoint split by only six seconds, but the Spaniard dropped 10 minutes in the final stages, dropping to ninth.

In the end, it was Yamaha teammate Xavier de Soultrait who proved van Beveren’s nearest opponent, albeit 5m01s down at the finish.

Matthias Walkner was third, another two minutes behind, and is now KTM’s highest-placed rider overall after the demise of teammate Sunderland.

Just 1m55s behind van Beveren in second overall is Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla – fourth-fastest on the stage – followed by lead Honda man Kevin Benavides and Walkner.

De Soultrait moves up from outside the top 10 into fifth, ahead of Toby Price (KTM).

Despite only finishing ninth on the stage, Barreda has climbed two positions overall to 13th, 22m08s off the lead of the rally, one place behind teammate Ricky Brabec, who has slipped from fifth.

Story and image: motorsport.com

Standings after Stage 4 (top 10):

Pos. Rider Bike Time/Gap
1  Adrien van Beveren Yamaha 11h03m23s
2  Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna 1m55s
3  Kevin Benavides Honda 3m15s
4  Matthias Walkner KTM 5m23s
5  Xavier de Soultrait Yamaha 7m34s
6  Toby Price KTM 10m14s
7  Jose Ignacio Cornejo Honda 12m06s
8  Franco Caimi Yamaha 12m48s
9  Gerard Farres KTM 13m05s
10  Antoine Meo KTM 13m47s