Xavier De Soultrait has scooped fifth place in the special and rocketed into the overall lead. The Frenchman has a slender margin of 15 seconds over Joan Barreda, who has been alternating victories with Toby Price since the first stage. The Australian lost almost a quarter of an hour after opening the road today and is now seven minutes behind De Soultrait in the general classification.
Joan Barreda has taken his second stage win this year. The HRC biker started in 30th place, seized the lead at the first time check and never looked back. Ross Branch came in six minutes down on Barreda and a few seconds ahead of rookie Daniel Sanders and Luciano Benavides's Husqvarna.
218 km into the special, Ricky Brabec is currently in 10th place, just over five minutes behind his teammate. The reigning champion could well have made the strategic choice to save his tyres and avoid having to open the road in tomorrow's fifth stage, widely touted as the toughest one in the 43rd Dakar.
Ross Branch was the first biker to wrap up today's special, but since he trailed Joan Barreda by over two minutes at km 268, victory still seems to have the Honda biker's name written all over it.