January 4 | Stage 4 | Ha’il – Ha’il | Distance – Total/Special: 574.01km/425km
– The relentless pace of the 2023 race continued on Wednesday with 425km against the clock across camel grass, desert canyons and sand dunes as Dakar heavyweights Loeb/Fabian Lurquin and Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger battled it out.
– Both crews led the stage at various points during the day in the car category before nine-time WRC winner Loeb got over the line 13 seconds quicker than 14-time Dakar winner Peterhansel. Frenchman Loeb said: “We tried to push really hard on this stage. We were on full attack all the time.”
– Australian Sanders finished eighth, however it was enough to claim the overall bike lead after the route had been drastically altered by heavy rain. The 28-year-old said: “I haven’t really done any opening with roadbooks since the last Dakar. It was tricky navigation.”
– There was another T3 stage win for the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich thanks to American Guthrie Jr. and co-driver Kellon Walch, who now lead the T3 rankings followed by Guillaume De Mevius/François Cazalet in second and AJ Jones/Gustavo Gugelmin in third. Guthrie, 26, revealed: “They took us up a lot of big dunes on this stage. My co-rider Kellon and me had to work really well together to decide which dunes to climb and which ones to go around.”
– Thursday’s Stage Five features 373km against the clock with a loop stage around the Ha’il bivouac.