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Honda lose rally lead, Husqvarna take over control and Laia Sanz gets pointed in the wrong direction by another rider. Stage 4 proved eventful at Dakar…

After a fairly dramatic stage four the Dakar Rally paddock woke up to news that Honda’s Joan Barreda had lost his lead in the rally.

It appears that the HRC Honda team riders all refuelled illegally and time penalties have since been added.

Barreda has been hit the hardest with a one-hour one-minute penalty knocking him from first down to seventh and over 41 minutes behind new rally leader Pablo Quintanilla.

The revised general standings see Quintanilla lead by just over two minutes from Matthias Walkner and Stefan Svitko a further three minutes back in third. Twenty seconds behind Svitko is Sam Sunderland ensuring things are tight among the top four.

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Despite the bad news for HRC, team member Paulo Goncalves displayed true Dakar spirit when he was first rider to Toby Price’s aid.

With Price crashing in front of him, Goncalves immediately stopped and called for medics. He stayed with Price until the helicopter crew arrived.

Although this is part of the Dakar camaraderie it’s not easy to interrupt your own race rhythm like that and therefore credit is given where it’s due.

“In Bolivia in the final part of the special I stopped to help Toby Price,” said Goncalves. “Who was ahead of me and I found that he had been injured. I called and waited for the helicopter and I am confident that they will reinstate me with the time lost.”



Unfortunately while that true sense of Dakar spirit was happening it's become slightly overshadowed by what’s now emerging as underhanded move towards Laia Sanz further down the field.

Sanz arrived to the end of the stage furious with another rider for what she says had deliberately pointed her in the wrong direction.

Confused by a waypoint marker, Sanz asked another rider for direction. He sent her in the wrong direction and she lost over 30 minutes in the process…

"I was riding well but I stopped to confirm a point with another driver and he told me that I had skipped two way points.

“I turned back to look for them and I saw that it was not true. It is my mistake to listen to him but it has been ugly" . 

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Speaking further to Spain’s MARCA Sanz told…

"I'm angry with the driver and angry at myself for believing it, you never think that someone is going to tell you something that is not, because in a race like the Dakar, when you lose, people usually help a lot.”

MARCA confirmed this rider to be Portugal’s Dakar rookie Joakim Rodrigues of Speedbrain.

It’s disappointing to see things like this happen, if true, because Rodrigues may have just one less friend in the desert when he needs it most.