After the tyre-wrecking rocks of Stage 2, Tuesday saw the crews face a 61km liaison from the bivouac in AlUla to the start of a 447km special stage before a further 162 km liaison to the bivouac in Ha’il. Taking place in one of the historical centres of Nabatean civilisation, majestic canyons, rocky tracks, and sandy trails were the order of the day before the weather played its part. Already, the 2023 Dakar is proving a real test of the new x-raid developed YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype, but one which, so far, the SSV is passing with flying colours.
Due to storms that hit the region and turned the desert into a river, the car race was officially stopped at Checkpoint 3, the 377km mark, with times up until that point counting. For the T3 Lightweight Prototype class, which starts after the main car category, many had to finish before they reached this point and head back to the bivouac via the road for safety reasons. Therefore, for vehicles that did not make it to CP3, their stage times were worked out by using the average speed in the earlier part of the route to calculate their final position.
It was Portuguese Porém and his co-driver Augusto Sanz (ARG) that made the most of the dangerous conditions, while their rivals struggled to navigate in the wet, to finish the stage as the leading YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype in sixth place, with a time of four hours, 17 minutes and three seconds, just 12 minutes behind the stage winner.
Close on the stage and in the timings were Chilean duo Ignacio Casale & Alvaro Leon, who were less than five minutes behind their teammates, finishing in seventh. Adding to their consistent performances on the previous stages, this sees the duo move up to 13th in the General Classification as the leading Yamaha crew.
Ahmed Alkuwari Fahad (QAT) and Manuel Lucchese (ITA) continued their excellent work by ending the stage in 16th, while Dakar Legend Camelia Liparoti (ITA) and co-driver Xavier Blanco (ESP) were 24th, despite suffering from a puncture that saw them have to stop and change tyres.
The all-female crew of Annett Fischer (DEU) and Annie Seel (SWE) were the next crew to bring their Yamaha YXZ1000R Turbo Prototype home in 42nd. Unfortunately, Dakar Rookie João Ferreira (PRT) & co-driver Filipe Palmeiro (PRT) were caught out by the weather and had to be towed out of the flooded desert, finishing the stage in 44th after receiving a penalty of 26 hours and 34 minutes.
Stage 4 of the 2023 Dakar is a loop and starts with a 94km liaison from the bivouac in Ha’il that leads to a 425km special stage featuring a mixture of everything the Dakar can throw at you. Fast tracks, rocks, soft sand, dunes and riverbeds, with the added dimension of the overnight rain making the route even tougher, before another 58km liaison back to the bivouac in Ha’il. Luckily, the rain seems to have gone for now, and the forecast for the day is 16 degrees Celsius and sunshine, with all the X-raid Yamaha Supported Team crews feeling recovered and determined to make up time in time in the overall standings.