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The drivers’ briefing warned competitors that this would be a tough stage and the Australian-based Isuzu Motorsports team soon discovered they had not exaggerated.

But despite a long hard day, the two crews did not lose any ground or have any major mechanical issues and will be ready to go for Day Five.

After the 288km timed special stage from Nazca to the city of Arequipa, the last Dakar-stage finish on Peruvian soil, competitors then had 430km to travel to the bivouac at Peru’s second largest city.
 
Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki (2012 Isuzu D-MAX; car 330) posted 58th fastest time out of the 130 starters, which left them steady in 42nd outright. Teammates Adrian Di Lallo and Steve Riley (Red Earth Motorsport, Isuzu D-MAX; car 439) gained some ground, coming home in 54th, to be 52nd outright.

“We were going really well at the start and passed about 15 cars in the bulldust,” Garland says.

“We should have been around the top 20 mark if we’d kept going at that rate, but then we stopped to help [US racer and friend] Robby Gordon because he’d rolled his car – we gave him some water.

“Then we got bogged while we were trying to pass this other car and while we were jacking it up to get out, the jack broke, so we lost a heap of time. It is frustrating because we didn’t have any dramas after that.

“Still, you have to try and keep it in perspective. We haven’t had a good run yet without a drama, but it’s still very early in the event – and the Dakar is not an event you win the first week.

“There was a lot of carnage today because it was such a hard stage – really spectacular, but really tough. I think there will be a lot of people who won’t get in at all tonight and a lot of them won’t start tomorrow.”

Again, the second car had fewer dramas than the veteran crew, after initially losing time with a flat tyre and getting bogged in bulldust. True team spirit came to the fore – they lent Garland a spare jack and he lent them an extra spare wheel after their puncture.

“We stopped to see if we could help Bruce after he broke his jack and then we went on from there with no real problems,” says Steve Riley.

“We did get stuck on a mountain pass behind a truck. One of the buggies had seized up in the worst place possible so the truck crew got out and pushed it out of the way, but obviously you lose a bit a time waiting.

“Aside from a really nice 30km drive along the beach front, it was actually so rough today that Adrian said this is probably what Mars looks like!”

Tomorrow, the Dakar Rally field leaves Peru and crosses the border to Chile. They will travel 509km in total from Arequipa to Arica. First up is 284km of transport/liaison to the start of the 172km special stage; then there’s a 52km liaison section to the bivouac. The special stage is contested in the Andes and will take the vehicles from valley to valley, so the navigators will be working very hard.

Arica is a port city on the north coast of Chile, just 18km south of the border with Peru. Historically, it was a major silver mining and exporting hub, back to the days of the Spanish in the 1500s and the port was looted by many famous seamen including Francis Drake and William Dampier.

Arica is also known as one of the driest inhabited places on Earth, at least as measured by rainfall: the average annual figure is just 0.76 mm (0.03 inches)!  The city is also world-famous as a surfing destination.
    
Overall result after four stages:
1. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret – MINI ALL4 Racing: 9h 04m 29s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Lucas Cruz – Demon Jefferies Buggy: 9h 09m 45s
3. Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz – Toyota HiLux: 9h 37m 51s
 
42. Garland/Suzuki – Isuzu D-MAX: 14h 54m 15s
52. Di Lallo/Riley – Isuzu D-MAX: 16h 27m 57s
 
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