Dakar 2023, Stage 4 results: Harith Noah, Joaquim Rodrigues retire
Stage 4 of the 2023 Dakar Rally proved to be a tough one for the Indian contingent with Sherco’s Harith Noah and Hero MotoSports’ Joaquim Rodrigues crashing out. Both riders have sustained injuries, but are in stable condition.
Tall sand dunes and tricky navigation were further exacerbated by the previous day’s rainfall changing the nature of the terrain. But Joan Barreda Bort and Sebastian Loeb expertly managed all the obstacles thrown their way to win the stage.
- Caimi the highest-placed Hero rider in 13th
- Buhler, Branch ran out of fuel
- Al-Attiyah extends lead in cars category
Harith Noah sustains spine fracture after Dakar 2023 crash
Noah crashed after 107km and was transported to a hospital where medical checks revealed a fractured vertebra, for which he requires surgery. But there is some welcome news – the TVS-backed rider has not suffered any neurological damage.
This was Noah’s fourth time participating in the Dakar rally and he was the only Indian competing this year. Back in 2021, he had become the first Indian to finish Dakar in the top 20.
Rodrigues out with leg injury
The stage also marked the end of Rodrigues’ Dakar 2023 journey. The Hero MotoSports rider crashed at around the 90km mark and had to be airlifted to a hospital. He’ll be undergoing surgery for a broken left femur, but remains in good spirits. “I’m feeling much better now at the hospital, and will be undergoing a surgery. I thank all our fans and partners for the concern and support, and I hope to be back in action soon,” he said.
It was a tough day for Hero MotoSports’ other riders as well. Franco Caimi was the highest-placed Hero rider in 17th (13th overall). The Argentinian rider admitted that while the stage was physically demanding, it took a psychological toll on him, too. “Seeing your team mate injured in the beginning of the stage is not something you can emotionally overcome quickly. So, it’s been a tricky stage, but happy to reach back in the bivouac safe,” he said.
With the rain transforming the sandy terrain into a harder surface, vehicles ended up consuming more fuel than anticipated. Sebastian Buhler and Ross Branch both ran out of fuel and lost a significant amount of time. They received help from competitors who lent them fuel to reach the re-fuelling point and go on to complete the stage.
Buhler ended the stage 97th, dropping him to 38th overall. While Branch was 104th in the stage, falling to 44th in the overall order.
Barreda, Loeb win Dakar stage 4
Despite nursing a broken toe, Monster Energy JB Team’s Joan Barreda Bort went on to win Stage 4.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sebastien Loeb bounced back from a disastrous start to the rally to take his first stage win this year. However, his early struggles mean he’s still over 90 minutes off the lead.
A fourth place finish was enough for Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah to further extend his lead in the cars category. However, Audi’s Carlos Sainz has made some progress as a nightmare Stage 3 and is now up to fourth overall.
Dakar 2023: Hero in Stage 3 top 10; Al-Attiyah leads in cars
Dakar 2023: Hero MotoSports’ Buhler second in Stage 2
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