Daniel Sanders Claims 2021 Rally Du Maroc Stage Four Win


There may not be a better way of bouncing back from a difficult day of rally racing than by winning the very next stage! That’s exactly what Daniel Sanders has done on the penultimate leg of the Rally Du Maroc. Photo. Marcin Kin

Daniel Sanders has claimed his maiden Rally Du Maroc stage win after topping the timesheets on stage four ahead of Matthias Walkner and Pablo Quintanilla

Riders were today once again faced with high-speed, undulating, stony and sandy tracks, with some broken-up ground and even some trial-style areas. There were constant dangers present on a route that covered some stretches that had been covered over the preceding days. The number of dunes today was negligible. A 118-kilometre liaison section led the riders to this morning’s starting point for the 367-kilometre special stage, the longest of the entire Rallye du Maroc. By the end of the special, there were just 61 kilometres left to reach the Tizi bivouac located in Zagora.

With the fourth day of the Rallye Du Maroc serving up another technical stage with tricky navigation, Daniel Sanders kept his mistakes to an absolute minimum, focused on his roadbook, and when the stage win was on the cards, got on the gas to secure his victory! Now faced with being the first rider to start the final day of racing, the Aussie is up for the challenge and excited about the prospect of completing another round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship with a strong overall finish.

Picking up his pace throughout the incredibly technical special, Daniel Sanders delivered what is undoubtedly his best ride of the event so far and now lies third in the overall provisional classification. Photo: Marcin Kin.

“I got the win, which is sick! Today I didn’t make any major mistakes and with the tricky navigation, you really had to focus,” Sanders said. “For sure I went offline a few times but what was encouraging for me was that I got back on track quickly. The stage had a bit of everything today, which added to the challenge, and it seemed like every 20 minutes we were into something different whether it was sand, hardpack roads, or rocky sections. I’m now in a pretty good position overall and tomorrow I’ll lead out so I’m excited for the challenge and hope to end this rally with a strong result.”

Second place on stage four sees Matthias Walkner at the head of the field with one stage remaining. Photo: Marcin Kin

Playing catch-up on today’s stage, Matthias Walkner was the 12th rider to enter the special. Making the most of his opportunity to push and make time on the riders ahead, Matthias was immediately fast to the first checkpoint. Maintaining his focus through the varied terrain, the Austrian was able to move into the lead of the stage by the halfway point. Choosing to ease his pace towards the finish, to minimize any mistakes, the 2018 Dakar Champion ultimately claimed second to re-take the provisional rally lead.

“It was a super long day again today,” Walkner said. “I tried my best to push right from the start because on such a long stage like this you find the pace drops off a little by the end. I wanted to catch as many people ahead as I could. This event is always one of my favorites – the terrain here really suits me with its mix of dunes, and off-pistes, and fast tracks. It’s really good for my confidence too, and I knew I would be able to make up some time today and fight for the stage win. I go into tomorrow’s final day leading the rally and as the second rider into the special. Hopefully I can make it safely to the finish without any big mistakes and fight for a place on the podium.”

Pablo Quintanilla was third on stage four and will fight hard to win the race on the final stage tomorrow.

The day proved to be a good one for Monster Energy Honda Team rider Pablo Quintanilla, who rode a solid stage and finished with the third-best time of the day. The Honda CRF450 RALLY rider confirmed his second overall place in the rally. The Chilean has one day left tomorrow to attempt to attack and reduce the 37-second gap that separates him from Walkner.

“We finished the penultimate stage of the race and like almost every other day, it was a long and hard stage,” Quintanilla said. “I’m happy, I felt great, with a good pace and without any navigation mistakes and that’s very important for my confidence. I’m second in the general standings, just slightly behind the first. Tomorrow we will go out to do our best on this last day. There will be less than 200 kilometres and so we’ll have to see what happens.”

Australian Toby Price had his highest stage finish so far with sixth. Photo: Marcin Kin

Joan Barreda was fourth ahead of Joaquim Rodrigue in fifth while Toby Price had his highest stage finish so far with sixth.

Setting a good pace right from the start, Price fought his way up to fifth position in the first 100 kilometersl. A small error resulted in the Australian losing around three minutes to the leaders by the midway point. Caught by rally leader Walkner after the refueling stop, the duo raced together from there to the finish. Claiming sixth on the stage, Price lies 14th overall in the rally standings.

“Day four is done – just one stage to go now. I had a pretty decent day, I made a few little mistakes near the start, before the refueling, but after I didn’t have any major issues,” Price reported. “Matthias caught me around kilometer 220 so I let him take the lead and just tucked in behind him to the finish. We kept to a good solid pace and was able to bring it home safely. I’m feeling good, looking forward to the last stage and ready to go.”

The fifth and final stage offers no respite for any of the remaining racers with the scheduled 291-kilometre special set to guarantee another long day in the saddle.

Stage 4 Results 

1SANDERS DanielAUSGas Gas Factory TeamGas Gas3:50’34
2WALKNER MatthiasAUTRed Bull KTM Rally Factory TeamKTM+0’36
3QUINTANILLA PabloCHIMonster Energy Honda TeamHonda+2’55
4BARREDA JoanSPAMonster Energy Honda TeamHonda+5’47
5RODRIGUES JoaquimPORHero Motorsports Team RallyHero+6’17
6PRICE TobyAUSRed Bull KTM Rally Factory TeamKTM+6’52
7HOWES SkylerUSAHusqvarna Factory Rally TeamHusqvarna+7’31
8VAN BEVEREN AdrienFRAMonster Energy Yamaha Rally TeamYamaha+ 10’05
9BENAVIDES KevinARGRed Bull KTM Rally Factory TeamKTM+10’10
10BENAVIDES LucianoARGRockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory RacingHusqvarna+13’05
17BRABEC RickyUSAMonster Energy Honda TeamHonda+20’19

Provisional Standings After Stage 4

1WALKNER MatthiasAUTRed Bull KTM Rally Factory TeamKTM14:47’02
2QUINTANILLA PabloCHIMonster Energy Honda TeamHonda+0’37
3SANDERS DanielAUSGas Gas Factory TeamGas Gas+5’46
4BRABEC RickyUSAMonster Energy Honda TeamHonda+7’34
5VAN BEVEREN AdrienFRAMonster Energy Yamaha Rally TeamYamaha+14’53
6BENAVIDES LucianoARGRockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory RacingHusqvarna+26’41
7BENAVIDES KevinARGRed Bull KTM Rally Factory TeamKTM+33’46
8RODRIGUES JoaquimPORHero Motorsports Team RallyHero+36’13
9SHORT AndrewUSAMonster Energy Yamaha Rally TeamYamaha+36’24
10CORNEJO José IgnacioCHIMonster Energy Honda TeamHonda+39’19

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