Honda rider Joan Barreda scored his second stage victory of Dakar 2021 on Wednesday’s fourth test to move up to second in the overall standings behind new leader Xavier de Soultrait.
The “rubber band effect” as described by reigning champion Ricky Brabec continued on Wednesday, as Barreda bounced back from a lowly 30th position on Stage 3 – which put him eighth overall – to win by nearly six minutes on the 337km Wadi Ad-Dawasir-Riyadh test.
Barreda first took the stage lead at the opening waypoint, but KTM’s Toby Price managed to snatch the position immediately at the next timed marker. However, after Price lost five minutes due to a navigational error, the route was cleared for his Honda rival to secure a clear victory from Yamaha’s Ross Branch.
Debutant Daniel Sanders was the top KTM rider in third, while Husqvarna rider Luciano Benavides finished fourth ahead of privateer and new overall leader de Soultrait (Husqvarna).
Joaquim Rodrigues missed out on a top five spot by just two tenths on the lead Hero bike, as Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda), Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), Stefan Svitko (KTM) and Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha) completed the top 10.
Following the results of Stage 5, Barreda has leapt from eighth to second in the general classifications, just 15 seconds behind de Soultrait.
The Frenchman is the fifth different rider to have held the lead in the bikes category since the start of the event with the Prologue on Saturday, following Brabec, Price, Barreda and KTM privateer Skyler Howes.
Honda’s Kevin Benavides dropped to third after finishing 11 minutes off the pace on Wednesday, but ahead of Branch, Howes and brother Luciano.
KTM duo Sam Sunderland and Price likewise lost positions after failing to finish inside the top 10 on Stage 4, the two riders sitting seventh and eighth with the first-third of the rally-raid complete.
Brabec is provisionally classified 15th after another difficult day for the Honda rider.
Standings after Stage 4 (Top 10):
1 Xavier de Soultrait
2 Joan Barreda
3 Kevin Benavides
4 Ross Branch
5 Skyler Howes
6 Luciano Benavides
7 Sam Sunderland
8 Toby Price
9 Jose Ignacio Cornejo
10 Pablo Quintanilla