There are lots of reasons to find the Dakar Rally and rally raids in general fascinating. Pitting riders and their machines against truly grueling courses, handing them roadbooks, and seeing how quickly they're able to traverse the terrain to get where they're going is only part of it.

Skills and camaraderie are also a major part of it. Call it the Dakar Spirit, or call it what you will, but it's always heartening to see competitors in a discipline look out for each other.

Sure, they want to win, and they want to be the best, but they also know that you don't get good in the first place or continue improving if there's no one operating on the same level. They want to beat the rest of the field, but they simultaneously want the rest of the field to do well; just not as well as they do. It makes sense, right?

While that spirit is a fairly common thing to see in the bivouac and on the stages, something that's less common is what Kove Moto head Zhang Xue has been sharing with the world. Remember how we mentioned that Mason Klein had been having some technical difficulties with his bike on Stage Two and Stage Three of the 2024 Dakar Rally? 

Not a lot of manufacturers or team owners would hop on social media and take full responsibility for a machine that's not performing as well as they feel that it should. Yet that's exactly what Mr. Zhang did after the Kove's engine broke on Stage Two.

 

He offered both a clear explanation for what went wrong, as well as a heartfelt apology. It's exactly this kind of spirit that makes Dakar special.

During Stage Three, when Klein spent hours fixing his bike and then nursing it across the finish line of the stage, Mr. Zhang couldn't believe his eyes. He took to the team's Instagram account again to share his enthusiasm for what he lauded as Klein's genius in fixing the engine well enough to get the bike across the finish line at all instead of simply retiring.

 

Humans make mistakes and are fallible, but it's what we do and how we learn from those mistakes that shows who we really are. At its best, that's what any good motorsport brings out in people, and it's particularly true with rally raids (and Dakar chief among them). 

Thanks to Klein's skills in getting the Kove back home after Stage Three, the team was able to go on and complete Stage Four. He's currently running in 99th place, but overcoming such long odds and obstacles is its own kind of winning.

Dakar Rally 2024: Stage Four Results

Stage Four ran from Al Salamiya to Al-Hofuf on January 9, 2024. At the start, the temps were hovering at the five degree Celsius mark (that's about 41 degrees Fahrenheit). Ross Branch fell twice and was okay both times, but those falls put a dent in both his stage and overall time rankings. 

In the end, it was Nacho Cornejo's faultless navigation and speed that saw him take both the stage win and the overall lead after Stage Four. Ricky Brabec finished in second, and birthday boy Kevin Benavides rounded out third place for the stage.

Here's the full top 10 results for Stage Four:

Rider Team Time
José Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Chile) Monster Energy Honda Team 2 hours, 51 minutes, 11 seconds
Ricky Brabec (USA) Monster Energy Honda Team 2 hours, 54 minutes, 10 seconds
Kevin Benavides (Argentina) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2 hours, 54 minutes, 29 seconds
Ross Branch (Botswana) Hero Motosports Team Rally 2 hours, 55 minutes, 37 seconds
Adrien Van Beveren (France) Monster Energy Honda Team 2 hours, 56 minutes, 36 seconds
Luciano Benavides (Argentina) Husqvarna Factory Racing 2 hours, 58 minutes, 33 seconds
Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) Hero Motosports Team Rally 2 hours, 59 minutes, 26 seconds
Rui Gonçalves (Portugal) Sherco Rally Factory 3 hours, 1 minute, 2 seconds
Skyler Howes (USA) Monster Energy Honda Team 3 hours, 1 minute, 16 seconds
Romain Dumontier (France) Team Dumontier Racing 3 hours, 3 minutes, 5 seconds

2024 Dakar Rally Overall Leaderboard After Stage Four

By taking his eighth-ever Dakar Rally stage win, Nacho Cornejo has now taken the lead for the first time at the 2024 Dakar Rally. With several stages left to go, it's impossible to predict what will happen between now and then. For the moment, though, the lead is his to enjoy.

Here are the overall rider standings after Stage Four of the 2024 Dakar Rally.

Rider Team Time
José Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Chile) Monster Energy Honda Team 17 hours, 27 minutes, 13 seconds
Ross Branch (Botswana) Hero Motorsports Team Rally 17 hours, 28 minutes, 28 seconds
Ricky Brabec (USA) Monster Energy Honda Team 17 hours, 32 minutes, 9 seconds
Kevin Benavides (Argentina) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 17 hours, 47 minutes, 52 seconds
Adrien Van Beveren (France) Monster Energy Honda Team 17 hours, 49 minutes, 43 seconds
Luciano Benavides (Argentina) Husqvarna Factory Racing 17 hours, 58 minutes, 24 seconds
Pablo Quintanilla (Chile) Monster Energy Honda Team 17 hours, 58 minutes, 57 seconds
Toby Price (Australia) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 18 hours, 2 minutes, 7 seconds
Martin Michek (Czech Republic) Orion Moto Racing Group 18 hours, 5 minutes, 24 seconds
Romain Dumontier (France) Team Dumontier Racing 18 hours, 5 minutes, 27 seconds

What will happen next? Your guess is as good as ours. Feel free to talk about it in the comments.

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