|Oilibya du Maroc: Great disappointment for Rodrigues after leading the SS4.|
The 4th Stage sees the riders tackling 250 kms of fast tracks, mainly off piste through sandy oued and dry lake beds, before technical tracks with difficult navigation in the vegetation until the arrival. The Morocco Rally had never gone through Chegaga this way with fast new tracks to avoid the rocks.
Team Honda HRC rider Helder Rodrigues’ stage stopped at km 58 on Thursday when he was opening the track with an 11 minute margin when his Honda CRF 450 Rally developed a fuel problem.
The Portuguese rider began today with an 11-minute overall lead at the halfway stage of the rally having won Monday’s opening stage and finishing in an impressive second place yesterday after stopping to help the injured Marc Coma.
Helder will take the start of the 5th stage on Friday and will continue testing the new CRF 450 Rally aiming to be 100% ready for the Dakar 2013, which remains the main target for Team HRC.
Fellow-Team HRC rider, Felipe Zanol, made up for the disappointment of Rodrigues by claiming third place in today’s demanding stage, just 4’19 behind Jakub Przygonski who claimed todays’ stage, ahead of Despres and Zanol. The Brazilian sits now in fourth place overall.
Sam Sunderland finished seventh, a problem with the GPS prevented him from giving his best on a fast and demanding 250 km stage. A navigation mistake slowed Javier Pizzolito down. He then regrouped with team mate Johnny Campbell until the end of the stage, finishing respectively in 19th and 17th position.
Helder Rodrigues, DNF: "I’m very disappointed but this is racing. We were here to make a shakedown of the machine and we were doing very well. I was opening the track when the machine developed a fuel problem and I had to wait 11 minutes for the first rider to catch me."
"It’s a pity because today I had already gained a good margin and I could have improved the gap in the overall classification. Tomorrow we will continue the race as the priority is to do the shakedown of the machine in preparation of the Dakar, which remains our priority."
Felipe Zanol 3rd in SS4 - 4th in the overall classification: "It was a good day for me. I didn’t make any navigation mistakes. I stopped to see if Helder was ok and then I continued the stage through dunes, fech fech and a lot of off piste. I experienced the first sand storm of my life. The visibility was very poor but fortunately we were close to the end of the stage."
Sam Sunderland 8th is SS4 - 7th in the overall classification: "I was doing well until the refuelling, then at km 203 I realized that my GPS was not working properly, I probably missed one way point and because of that I struggled until the end of the stage. We are checking with the CP Course to understand what happened."
Johnny Campbell 17th in SS4 - 18th in the overall classification: "This was the most difficult stage so far. We had to pay a lot of attention to the GPS and the CAP. The terrain was tough too, with many dunes, big and little ones of soft sands so it was almost impossible to have a good rhythm.
Javier Pizzolito19th in SS4 - 13th in the overall classification: "it was the most demanding stage both for the rider and the machine. It was very hot and I made a navigation mistake, losing 15 minutes. After having checked that Helder was ok, I tried to recover my rhythm and start passing many riders. Then I regrouped with Johnny and we did almost half of the stage together."
Katsumi Yamasaki, Team HRC LPL: "We are very disappointed because Helder was doing a great job and he was opening the track with an 11- minute margin. We think that it was a fuel problem but we are checking now. Anyway this race was meant mainly as a test to make the shakedown of the machine in preparation for the Dakar, which remains our target."
"We are collecting data that is so important for such a young project. We will anayse all the data and continue working. It was a very promising day for Felipe, who rode with an accurate navigation and finished in the top 3. Sam struggled due to a problem with the GPS, while Johnny and Javier did a very good team work riding together for half of the stage."
2012/10/19 | 10:45 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/HRC