At 470.19 kilometres the timed special on stage four of the rally was the longest of the event. Consisting of a looped route, that started and finished close to the Mongolian capital of Ulan-Bator, the stage challenged the riders with a variety of terrain including fast open tracks through the plains and rocky roads among the stone pyramids. As the first part of the two-day marathon stage, teams are forbidden from working on the bikes overnight.
Following his fourth-place finish on Tuesday’s stage three, Sam Sunderland was in the perfect position to chase down the riders ahead of him and make up time on the rally leader. Maintaining a fast pace for the entire 470 kilometres, the British rider not only did enough to make up time on the riders ahead but won the stage outright, over three minutes ahead of his teammate. Sunderland now leads the rally by five minutes and 11 seconds.
Sam Sunderland #6
“It’s been a super-long and super-fast stage today, which is a good combination as the kilometres tick off quite quickly when you’re at 160-170 km/h. I felt really good on the bike and tried to stay on my navigation and watch out for the dangers. You have to stay focused but 470 kilometres is a long time to maintain your concentration. The bike has been perfect so I’m really happy with that. It’s the marathon stage so we can’t really work on the bike too much, but everything looks good so we’re ready for tomorrow.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Junior class rider Luciano Benavides put in another stunning performance today to complete the long timed special in second overall – an impressive achievement for the young 24-year-old Argentinian. Benavides now lies second in the provisional overall standings albeit by just one second. However, the gap back to the fourth-placed rider is a more comfortable 14 minutes.
Luciano Benavides #77
“It was a good stage for me, I feel like I rode well again. It was a long stage – the longest of the Silk Way, so I’m happy to finish safe and healthy. My goal for today was to concentrate on my road book and navigation and stay focused on the bike. I think I managed that and I’m happy with the result. I feel confident now and really motivated for tomorrow’s second part of the marathon stage.”
Feeling more comfortable on her KTM 450 RALLY, Laia Sanz rode a superb stage four completing the day just outside of the top 10 in 11th. With her confidence growing, Laia is ready to push on the latter half of the marathon stage and the remainder of the rally.
Laia Sanz #44
“It was a good stage for me today, I felt a lot more comfortable than the days before. The bike felt good and I had more confidence so was able to keep to a better rhythm. Unfortunately, on the second half of the stage, I had to stop for my stomach and lost a little time there but all-in-all it has been a good day.”
(Top 10 Only)
|1||SUNDERLAND Sam||GBR||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||9:38’55|
|2||BENAVIDES Luciano||ARG||KTM Factory Racing Team||+5’11|
|3||BARREDA Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||+5’12|
|4||BENAVIDES Kevin||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||+15’38|
|5||MENA Oriol||SPA||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||+16’52|
|6||VAN BEVEREN Adrien||FRA||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||+17’21|
|7||SHORT Andrew||USA||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||+17’29|
|8||GONCALVES Paulo||POR||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||+18’23|
|9||CAIMI Franco||ARG||Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team||+20’19|
|10||CORNEJO José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||+34’31|
Photos: KTM Press Center