Dakar Rally 2018: Stage 4

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The 13-time Dakar champion in all categories won Wednesday's 266-kilometer (165-mile) stage between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa in Peru. After this sprint along the beach, the competitors were challenged to tackle one of the longest sandy section ever in the history of the Dakar, a total of 100 kms with dunes of all sizes making up a total stage run of 444km including the special stage of 330 kms.

The only other Indian company participating at Dakar is the Hero Motorsports Rally Team and Oriol Mena delivered his best stage of the Dakar coming in 11th in Stage 5 and reaching an overall standing of 21 after five stages.

RALLY leader Sam Sunderland was airlifted to hospital by helicopter as he quit the race with a frightening back injury. The 28-year-old defending champion landed hard after a jump and it eventually led to his exit. The former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham manager, who was making his debut in the rally, felt back pains after his vehicle crashed against a sand dune in the fourth stage.

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Sebastien Loeb - a nine-time world rally champion - also pulled out after his co-driver Daniel Elena got injured as their vehicle landed awkwardly in the desert.

Adrien van Beveren of France won the fourth stage in about four hours.

Van Beveren finished five minutes ahead of teammate Xavier de Soultrait and seven minutes in front of the Austrian KTM rider Matthias Walkner.

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With the WRC legend ruled out, his Peugeot teammates Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz were left standing as the two frontrunners in the auto class, and it was the former who bolstered his chances with a strong time through Wednesday's test. Walkner finished second in stage 5 while Benavides finished third.

The 13-time Dakar champion notched up his first stage win of the 2018 event, beating his nearest rival - Toyota's Bernhard ten Brinke - by nearly five minutes. "They did an unbelievable job to replace our gearbox in just twenty minutes - but that meant that we'd lost even more time".

After tackling the sand dunes, the drivers and riders will next have to tackle the high mountains of Bolivia.

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