Mena maintains overall 12th spot; Rodrigues, Santosh complete stage 4 incident free
By Saumojyoti S Choudhury
Arequipa (Peru), Jan 11 (PTI) Extending his reasonably good run, Hero MotorSports' Oriol Mena finished the marathon stage 4 in the 11th position, maintaining his 12th spot in the overall standings of the 41st Dakar Rally here.
Considered as the most gruesome and toughest off-road rallies in the world, Mena preferred to ride the terrain on its merit which allowed him to judge when to push hard and when to be cautious on Thursday.
Rodrigues started the stage at the back and had to ride cautiously for the first part of the stage because the dust created by the front riders made it extremely difficult for him to accelerate.
Rodrigues still managed to gain a few positions to finish 30th and retain his overnight 31st place in the overall standings.
But there was no end to India's ace rider C S Santosh's struggle as he finished the stage at the 51st place, to be 44th in the overall standings.
Aiming to get his bike in a good condition into the marathon stage, where no assistance is available for the riders, Santosh too rode cautiously and checked into the marathon bivouac at Moquegua.
The competitors encountered a mix of 70 per cent soft, fesh-fesh and about 30 per cent of gravel and stony terrain in the first half of the marathon stage, which was a total of 511kms, including a 351km long special.
The second half of the marathon stage will get the competitors back from the Moquegua to the Arequipa bivouac to reunite with their teams.
"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, he said.
Rodrigues said the dust created by front riders made his life difficult.
"It was not easy for me to catch up in the first part as I was riding mostly in the dust from the guys in front of me. So I decided to stay out of the risks and just tried to avoid the dust. After the neutralization, I got into a good stride in the technical sections and managed to gain some ground," the Portugese said.
Santosh added: "I rode the whole stage in the dust, trying to pass the guys in front of me but also be safe at the same time. It was really tricky as there was so much of fesh-fesh around. Besides one or two tip-overs, I am happy with the stage today. I think I am able to manage my race much better this year than last year."
The other Indian interest in the rally, Sherco TVS Racing's Aravind Prabhakar is placed 79th in the overall standings