Dakar Rally Stage 4 Report: Sunderland Out, Van Beveren Into The Lead

Jean Turner | January 9, 2018

Dakar Rally Stage 4 Report: Stage 4 of the 2018 Dakar Rally was unique, sending motorcycles off in a mass start on the beach of San Juan de Marcona, Peru. Riders headed into another trying day of navigating their way through the Peruvian dunes, and many top riders suffered mistakes and setbacks. Of course, none more so than Sam Sunderland. The defending champion and current leader suffered a crash during stage 4 that spelled the end of his race. Following Sunderland’s departure, factory Yamaha’s rising star Adrien Van Beveren stepped forward, scoring the stage win and moving into the overall lead.

Adrien Van Beveren Dakar Rally Stage 4
Yamalube Yamaha Factory rider Adrien Van Beveren moved into the lead after riding a mistake-free stage 4. Photography by Yamalube Yamaha Official

Dakar Rally Stage 4 Report

Red Bull KTM rider Sam Sunderland started out leading the 200-mile timed section on day 4, looking for his third stage win of the race, but a hard crash resulted in a back injury that proved too severe to continue.

KTM Rally Team Manager Alex Doringer explained, “Unfortunately Sam had an accident today while searching for a waypoint around the 230km mark. He jumped into a hole and compressed his back. Although he was able to continue for the next five kilometers, he was then forced to reture when the pain became too bad.

“Initially he was airlifted back to the bivouac but was then taken onto the hospital in Lima for further checks. I managed to talk to Sam before he flew to the hospital and although disappointed, he was still in good spirits. Overall the team is performing well.”

Sunderland’s teammate and 2016 Dakar Rally Champion Toby Price had a challenging day as well. He described the “unpredictable” sand conditions that caused him to lose 11 minutes and finish 15th on the day, dropping hi to sixth overall.

“That was the most difficult day so far,” Price lamented. “We thought by starting in a group it would be like a nice day out riding with your friends but as soon as we got to the dunes, the going got really tough. The worst thing was the sand was really unpredictable—there were loads of soft patches that were hard to see and if you were the first rider to hit them you ended up dropping right back. The group I was in missed a waypoint so we lost a fair amount of time getting back on track. As a positive I finished the stage in one piece, I’m in a good start position for tomorrow so I’ll crack on and see if I can claw back some time then.”

Dakar Rally Stage 4 start
Riders enjoyed the motocross-style mass-start on the beach of San Juan de Marcona in stage 4. Photography by Monster Energy Honda

Dakar Rally Stage 4 Report

Yamalube Yamaha Factory Rider Xavier de Soultrait followed his teammate Van Beveren to the finish, making it a Yamaha 1-2 on the day and moving de Soultrait into fifth overall. The duo was among the few in the field to enjoy a mistake-free day, and helped each other to the finish, taking the checkers side by side.

“We all started together on the beach and I was in the second group of riders to take the start,” Van Beveren said. “It reminded me a lot of Le Touquet and it was great fun. I knew I had to stay focused on my riding and navigation. I knew I had to be patient and attack whenever that was possible. It all went well for me and I managed to pass many riders even from the first group. When I reached the big dunes I raced alongside Xavier and we actually helped each other to the finish. It was a great day for me and a great day for Yamaha.”

KTM’s Matthias Walkner finished third in stage 4 and a now sits fourth, but the biggest threat to Van Beveren’s overall lead are Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla (second place less than two minutes behind) and Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides (sitting third only 3:15 off the lead).

Andrew Short remains a steady force aboard his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. He felt right at home on today’s motocross-style start and called it his “best-ever stage in rallying.” Shorty finished 22nd on the stage, less than 20 minutes off the lead pace at the end of the 200-mile special.

“It was good fun to have a mass-start and it was great to see the pace of the fast guys along the beach,” said Short. “In the dunes I was in a good position but there was a really tricky waypoint to find and I lost some time there. After finding that, I was able to continue with some really fast guys and managed to stay with them for a good distance. I did make a mistake with my navigation that was my own fault and cost me a little, but generally I am feeling really positive about the day.”

Ricky Brabec Dakar Rally Stage 4
It was a tough day for Ricky Brabec, who lost 20 minutes on stage 4, but the Monster Energy Honda hasn’t lost focus. Photography by Monster Energy Honda

Dakar Rally Stage 4 Report

American rider Ricky Brabec had some difficulty, finishing the stage in 24th place and dropping him out of the top-five overall to 12th place. “The navigation was a bit tricky—I think all of us got confused and lost at the same waypoint. I spent a bit more time at that waypoint trying to find it; everyone was going their own way. I thought it might be at the top of a dune. I struggled to get back to the top. Unfortunately it wasn’t there; it was in the next valley. So I lost about 20 minutes today, which hurts me pretty badly in the overall standings. It’s hard to swallow but we will fight on over the next few days.”

American rookie Dakar racers Mark Samuels and Shane Esposito both completed stage 4 with respectable times, but each was slapped with a time penalty—one hour for Samuels and two for Esposito. The duo joined over two dozen riders who received 1-2-hour penalties today.

The coming days will be a true test of fortitude for riders, especially those who have already experienced some frustrating setbacks in the opening days of the rally. Tomorrow riders face 480 miles in the saddle, with a timed special of 165 miles.

Overall Ranking after Stage 4:

  1. Adrien van Beveren (Yam) 11:03:23
  2. Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +1:55
  3. Kevin Benavides (Hon) +3:15
  4. Matthias Walkner (KTM) +5:23
  5. Xavier de Soultrait (Yam) +7:34
  6. Toby Price (KTM) +10:14
  7. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Hon) +12:06
  8. Franco Caimi (Yam) +12:48
  9. Gerard Farres Guell (Yam) +13:05
  10. Antoine Meo (KTM) +13:47
  11. Stefan Svitko (KTM) +15:50
  12. Ricky Brabec (Hon) +21:07
  13. Joan Barreda (Hon) +22:08


  1. Laia Sanz (KTM) +44:56


  1. Andrew Short (Hus) +52:56


  1. Mark Samuels (Hon) +3:15:47


  1. Shane Esposito (KTM) +3:24:36

Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.