Sainz continues lead after stage 4 win

Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn in a Race Touareg fought it out with Nasser Al-Attiyah/Tina Thörner on yesterday’s route from Jacobacci to Neuquén in western Argentina. The Volkswagen duo ultimately gained the upper hand with a lead of six seconds in spite of experiencing a slow puncture on the last few kilometres of today’s special stage, which differed from the last few days’ routes due to trial-like sections, drives through dried-up riverbeds and a greater degree of off-road driving. Sainz now leads the famous desert classic for the third consecutive day and has increased his lead on the BMW X-raid driver to 3.46 minutes.In their battle for the front position, Sainz and Al-Attiyah put more than two minutes between themselves and the third best team, which goes to show how intense the competition on today’s 488-kilometre leg was. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz came in sixth today in their Volkswagen Race Touareg, defending their third place overall. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford achieved the fourth best time of the day on today’s special stage, which went from an altitude of over 1,300 metres to just 300 metres above sea level. This means there are still three Volkswagen drivers in the top six in the overall rankings. Dieter Depping/Timo Gottschalk came in eleventh in the fourth Race Touareg, 12.49 minutes behind Sainz/Périn, after having to make two stops for tyre changes along the way. Overall, the German pair have now improved their ranking by two places to 13th.

Kris Nissen (Volkswagen Motorsport Director)"Again, we can say that things went well for Volkswagen once more on day four. I’m immensely proud of the entire Volkswagen team, including the drivers, who have done a great job so far in this year’s ‘Dakar’. Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah are currently the fastest in the field, but all the other teams are still hot on their heels. After day four, I would say that so far, this has been one of the most exciting ‘Dakars’ ever. There’s no doubt about it – bringing this rally to Argentina and Chile was a good idea.”

Quotes after Leg 4#301 – Carlos Sainz (E), 1st place leg / 1st place overall"Today was very exciting. During the special stage, we not only caught up with Nasser Al-Attiyah in the BMW, who started ahead of us, but also went on to even overtake him. Things became quite tight again towards the end after we suffered a slow puncture. We decided to press on without changing the tyre, but we did have to stop to pump it up again. And that did the trick: 0.8 bar was all that was left in the tyre at the finishing line and we had secured ourselves a six-second lead.”#305 – Giniel de Villiers (ZA), 6th place leg / 3rd place overall"We had a very interesting day today. Things got off to a good start and all in all, everything was as good as perfect. We did lose our way briefly and found ourselves in a dead end. We then had difficulty getting back on course, and that cost us a few minutes. The Race Touareg has so far stood up admirably to everything that’s been thrown at it. That’s good to know, because the event is getting more difficult by the day and the biggest challenges of the rally are most certainly still to come.”#307 – Dieter Depping (D), 11th place leg / 13th place overall"Today didn’t go quite as well as the last few days. We forfeited twelve minutes in comparison to the leaders, but having suffered two punctures, I’m happy with this result nonetheless. Apart from upsets like that, which can happen again and again, the Race Touareg is running like clockwork.”#308 – Mark Miller (USA), 4th place leg / 6th place overall"I’m more than happy with fourth place. It’s been a great day! Because I’m sticking to my tactic of not taking too many risks during the initial special stages. The legs are already getting more and more demanding by the day, and the most difficult stretches are still to come. But with lots of rocks along the track, we didn’t want to risk getting a puncture by driving too unrelentingly. We’re focusing on keeping the top of the leader board within reach – and we achieved that today.”

Coming up …Wednesday, 7 January: Leg 5, Neuquén (RA)–San Rafael (RA). The drive from Neuquén in the north-west to San Rafael in the province of Mendoza is perhaps the most challenging test in the first rally week of the "Dakar”. The great distance to be travelled – 763 kilometres in total, of which 506 kilometres are against the clock – will call for a high degree of concentration and includes a 20-kilometre drive through sand dunes as well as off-road stretches along the "rios”. The Andes will be visible on the horizon today.