The sands of time wait for none on stage four of 2018 Dakar Rally

clockwise) Sébastien Loeb, Sam Sunderland, Ignacio Casale and Eduard Nikolaev © Marcelo Maragni/Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Today’s Dakar Rally action started on the beach, but this was no relaxed day out for the brave competitors left in the race. As stage four left Peru’s Pacific Ocean shoreline it delved deep into the desert for a section of sand dunes totalling 100km. It was in this extreme terrain that many of the race’s leading contenders lost their shot at glory.

The cars were waved off from the beach in groups of four, with a 19km straight to test the nerve of each of the crews. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) went off in the second wave and was soon gaining on the opening foursome that included his Peugeot team-mates Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)Cyril Despres (FRA) and Carlos Sainz (ESP) as well as the Toyota of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT).

“We made the best time and that’s what we had to do, so at the moment it’s going well.” – Sébastien Loeb

Loeb kept pushing through 330km of timed special and won the stage with the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxis of Sainz and Peterhansel second and third respectively. However, the shine was taken off Team Peugeot Total’s 1-2-3 result by the problems suffered by their fourth driver Despres. Despres suffered a long stoppage at the 180km point in stage due to a broken rear wheel and his chances of repeating last year’s podium finish now look very slim.

“We’ve three cars that have come through the stage OK, but I’m really disappointed for Cyril.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

There were problems also on the stage for Al-Attiyah and his Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team-mate Giniel De Villiers (ZAF). Both drivers endured a tough day and both eventually finished around an hour behind Loeb.

“We’re here now at the finish and we’ll see what we can do. We need to push at maximum pace now.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

With each passing stage the world’s toughest rally is proving its hard earned reputation as no respecter of rank or reputation. Watch Bryce Menzies (USA) crash out on stage two and get his reaction right here