Ourazazate, Morocco:Jean-Louis Schlesser of France won the fourth stage of the Dakar rally on Tuesday, while Carlos Sainz of Spain retained the overall lead. The race was marred by the death of South African motorcyclist Elmer Symons. The 29-year-old Symons was killed about 142 kilometers (88 miles) into the 405-kilometer special from Er Rachidia to Ouarzazate in Morocco. A medical team rushed to his aid by helicopter, but he was pronounced dead. No further details were immediately given. Schlesser and his Schles-Ford-Raid car finished in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 54 seconds for his 14th career stage win. Carlos Sousa of Portugal was second in 4:07:46 and Sainz came third in 4:07:52. Defending champion Luc Alphand of France was seventh and Stephane Peterhansel, also of France and a former Dakar champion, finished 10th with a burnt-out clutch. Wednesday's fifth stage is a 325-kilometer trek from Ouarzazate to Tan-Tan in Morocco. Sainz leads third-stage winner Giniel de Villiers of South Africa by 1:55, and Sousa by 4:20 - giving Volkswagen a 1-2-3. Alphand, a former World Cup ski racer, is sixth overall and Peterhansel is more than 24 minutes behind Sainz in ninth. Both are with Mitsubishi. In motorbikes, defending champion Marc Coma of Spain won on his KTM to move ahead of Esteve Pujol, also of Spain, in the standings. Coma raced ahead after 100 kilometers and finished in 4:27.54 - 12:16 ahead of Pujol and 18:56 in front of Cyril Despres of France. Overall, Coma leads Pujol with David Casteu of France in third. Symons was competing in his first Dakar after assisting on previous races and had been in 18th place overnight. Deaths have long marred the African desert race. Last year, 41-year-old Australian motorcyclist Andy Caldecott died, and two children were also killed - in Guinea and Senegal - after being hit by vehicles passing through packed desert villages. Two years ago, 2001 and 2002 champion Fabrizio Meoni of Italy and Juan Manuel Perez of Spain, both motorcyclists with KTM, were killed.
Topics : Formula 1