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Sainz increases Dakar lead
Volkswagen maintains its triple lead on the fourth day of the Dakar Rally: Factory driver Carlos Sainz expanded his advantage at the top by 53 seconds to 1.55 minutes on the leg from Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate in Morocco.

The Spaniard with his French co-driver Michel Périn set the third-best time on the 679-kilometre distance – the longest leg of the rally so far. Behind Jean-Louis Schlesser (France/Buggy) the Portuguese Carlos Sousa with German co-driver Andy Schulz at his side in the Race Touareg 2 of Team Lagos, prepared and fielded by Phoenix-Sport, finished as the best-placed Volkswagen duo of the day.
Behind Sainz/Périn and in front of Sousa/Schulz, Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz in the blue factory Touareg remain in second place of the overall classification. The South African-German pairing, who won yesterday’s special stage, achieved the fifth-best time in adverse conditions: thick vegetation of up to a meter and half in height inside a chott in the beginning forced the first team out on the course to stop three times to clear the radiator of grass. Mark Miller dropped from fifth to tenth position overall: The Volkswagen factory driver from the USA with his South African co-driver Ralph Pitchford lost 40 minutes on account of a damaged differential. Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons in the fourth Race Touareg fielded by the factory team finished the stage in eleventh place.
Standings after stage 4, Er Rachidia (MA) – Ouarzazate (MA); 405/679 km stage 4/overall
Pos.; Team; Vehicle; Stage 4; Total time
1. Carlos Sainz/Michel Périn (E/F); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h07m52s (3rd); 9h17m11s
2. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz (RSA/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h08m45s (5th) + 1m55s
3. Carlos Sousa/Andreas Schulz (P/D); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h07m46s (2nd) + 4m20s
4. Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz Senra (E/E); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4h07m59s (4th) + 11m44s
5. Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (J/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4h09m24s (6th) + 12m49s
6. Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4h12m03s (7th) + 16m10s
7. Jean-Louis Schlesser/Arnaud Debron (F/F); Schlesser Buggy; 3h59m54s (1tst) + 18m20s
8. Guerlain Chicherit/Matthieu Baumel (F/F); BMW X3; 4h13m21s (8th) + 18m28s
9. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-P. Cottret (F/F); Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution; 4h25m50s (10th) + 24m01s
10. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h40m34s (12th) + 41m54s
Ari Vatanen/Fabrizia Pons (FIN/I); Volkswagen Race Touareg 2; 4h29m57s (11th) + 6h50m05s
Coming up…
Wednesday, 10 January: 5th leg, Ouarzazate (MR) – Tan Tan (MR): 325 km stage/768 km total. The third Moroccan leg of the Dakar Rally includes some tight and twisty as well as some fast stretches through the Atlas mountains. This is followed by a 279-kilometre connecting leg to the bivouac in Tan Tan.

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