Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Ruben Faria third in Dakar stage 4

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Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Ruben Faria proved he is a Dakar rider of resilience and experience on Wednesday when he made a strong recovery to finish second in Stage 4. Faria was just two minutes 35 behind stage winner and fellow Portuguese Paolo Goncalves. Both riders advanced two positions in the results after the original leader Joan Barreda picked up a 5-minute speeding penalty.

With this result Faria has put a difficult day in Stage 3 behind him and is now fifth in the overall standings. He is seven minutes 21 off the leading time but there is a long way to go in this 9,000km journey.

Factory teammate Pablo Quintanilla of Chile was tenth in the stage and is currently eighth overall. He will be working hard to trim the 9.05 gap to the leaders in the coming days.

Quintanilla: “We rode a lot in the Dakar manner if you consider the amount of kilometers, although only on trails and little navigation. My idea was to leave Argentina without making mistakes and I did succeed. I hope that as we enter Bolivia we find more offroad because that is my real strength and I can put on the pressure.”

Unfortunately the stage came to an abrupt end for the team rookie Pela Renet. He started very strongly and rode between fourth and ninth position almost to the end of the special. But he then crashed at the 400km mark, just 29km from the finish and has had to withdraw from the competition.”

Wednesday was the first half of a marathon stage where riders were not allowed to touch their bikes from the time they entered the bivouac. The stage, which took competitors in a loop around Jujuy, also represented another long ride – a total distance of 629km. It was also at an average altitude of 3500 meters over a mix of sandy and rocky terrain.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Team Manager Daniel Trauner: “We’re really satisfied with Ruben Faria, who does a brilliant job and was second in this stage. Hopefully he will continue like this for the rest of the marathon stage. Also Pablo, who is not really used to riding the fast tracks, is satisfied with his position. He’s very motivated and confident for the stage tomorrow. He also told us he was able to save the tyre. Unfortunately Pela (Renet) crashed today. He has had scans and checks and there is no broken bones.”

On Thursday riders must look after bikes and tyres through Stage 5, but there is an additional challenge. The rally enters Bolivia and during the timed special they will climb to 4,600m altitude. Organizers have also promised that navigation is about to get more difficult so riders will have to concentrate on their road books on the way from Jujuy to Uyuni, a distance of 642km, with a timed special of 327km.