It was a tough day for Al-Attiyah; the current Cross-Country World Cup title holder started the day on a charge, and quickly made up some time over the leaders, only to be slowed by a gearbox problem.
Qatar's Nasser al-Attiyah, a two times Dakar victor and leader after the opening day, fell to fourth in his Toyota and was 58 minutes adrift of 13 times victor Peterhansel, who was third in the stage.
"The dunes were really churned up and the sand was incredibly soft".
Santosh chose to play it safe and steady as the rally neared the halfway mark to finish the stage at 52nd position.
Fellow Australian Rodney Faggotter moved into the top 20 overall on a day his factory Yamaha teammates celebrated. Honda rider Kevin Benavides of Argentina is 1 minute behind Van Beveren after five stages. When we arrived in the dunes, I had the opportunity to come back. It took everything that I had and the machine had to make it through today.
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The Dakar debutant sat 77th overall heading into the fourth stage, but the official results have not shown him passing any waypoints on the test.
The Gazoo Racing SA Toyotas fought back on Wednesday, with Dutch driver Bernhard ten Brinke ending up second on the stage, 4m32s behind Peterhansel and ahead of South African star Giniel de Villiers, Sainz and Nasser Al Attiyah. Loeb finished one minute 35 seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz on Tuesday, and he was more than three minutes in front of compatriot and defending champion Stephane Peterhansel, reports Xinhua news agency.
Peugeot's Sebastien Loeb during Stage 4 of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Things were looking up for CS Santosh as well, who lost a significant one hour in Stage 3 after the fuel cap on his rear tank wasn't fitted properly, and led to his bike run out of fuel, 30 km short from the final checkpoint.
Ten Brinke not only recorded a perfectly clean stage, but also kept pace with the leading Peugeot of Stephane Peterhansel over terrain that was much more suited to the buggy.