Loeb started seventh and ran reliably, averaging 100 km/h, through the sand dunes. The Frenchman was more cautious in the dunes of the final part of the stage, ending up second on the stage and maintaining the overall lead of the event with a margin of 3 minutes 46 seconds. “No problems for us and we just concentrated on getting to the finish of the stage with no further drama or risks. We managed to maintain the gap with Nasser Al- Attiyah and we still have a small advantage. Tomorrow, he will open the road so our job is to stay focused and concentrated on finding the right way, without overreaching ourselves,” Loeb commented.
Sainz joined his team-mate on the stage podium, proving that he is truly up to speed despite several months out of the car. Even though the Spaniard suffered from dust from the cars ahead of them on the road, after having started in 14th position, he was able to move up to 3rd position on the stage, passing 3 competitors on the road. “With every kilometer we feel more confident with the car; the only thing that was a little frustrating was the dust from the cars ahead, as we started in the back. But apart from that it was OK. We will adjust some of the set-up on the car tonight. Now we are concentrating on moving up the order if we can,” Sainz disclosed.
In the overall classification, the 50-hour penalty for Sainz, as a result of a misunderstanding with race control on yesterday’s shortened stage 2, was cancelled, meaning that the Spaniard is now back in a representative position, 6th overall; 26 minutes off the leader.
The following stage has no service park, meaning the drivers and co-drivers will go through the mechanics’ check-list by themselves. As neither crew had any particular problems, despite the navigation continuing to be tricky, they will focus on the road-book preparation and get some deserved rest.
Stage four’s action is split into two sections, predominantly featuring sand dunes. The first section takes in 170 kilometers of stage, leaving directly from the bivouac. The second section takes in 263 km, after a 21-km road section. It’s an intensive day requiring maximum driving precision and concentration from the crews, as it’s all too easy to make a mistake and get stuck.