Repsol KTM’s Marc Coma put in another top-notch ride today to win the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally, the Spaniard taking not only the stage win but also the overall lead as the day ended in Ouarzazate after the rally's first taste of sand dunes.
Today’s stage, however, was marred by the death of South African rider Elmer Symons, the 29-year-old pronouncaed dead on the scene at the 87-mile mark of today’s stage after crashing his KTM. This was Symons’ first Dakar as a racer, though he had worked in two other Dakars as part of a support crew.
In taking the overall lead, Coma becomes the fourth different overall leader in the four days of the rally. His lead, however, is growing, the defending race champion now holding down an 11-minute lead.
Yesterday's leader Isidre Esteve Pujol continued to apply the pressure to Coma as he finished the day in second place and holds down second in the overall standings.
Red Bull KTM’s Chris Blais ended today’s stage in sixth, but lost almost 27 minutes to Coma. Blais is fourth overall, 35 minutes behind Coma, in the overall standings.
Third overall is held by Gauloises KTM’s David Casteu, the Frenchman finishing fourth in today’s stage behind Coma, Esteve and Cyril Despres. Despres climbed to sixth overall after his disastrous stage three.
So far, only one other American other than Blais had made it to the finish of today’s stage and that was Casey McCoy in 35th place. McCoy is now 33rd overall.
According to event organizers, Americans Mike Kay and Brian Schmuckle have withdrawn from the race during stage four, joining James Embro who withdrew yesterday.