The compact sand on Stage Five caused plenty of problems on today’s leg of the Dakar Rally. The toughest test of endurance racing that motorsports has to offer is certainly living up to its reputation at this fourth edition hosted by Saudi Arabia. Even those at the top of the order know that trouble can strike anytime as many competitors find its one step forward, two steps back at this Dakar.
America’s Skyler Howes moved into the overall lead of the bike category by maintaining his run of consistency for Husqvarna in sixth, despite struggling to follow the path.
“We didn’t followed the roadbook precisely today, but it is difficult because there are so many tracks to follow,” said Howes. “The rain and the wind washed away the track.”
It was harder still for his fellow front-runners, who were shaken by illness and incidents. Overnight leader Daniel Sanders was forced to ride well within himself after the Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing rider woke up feeling unwell. As Sanders slid down the leaderboard, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Toby Price and Kevin Benavides rose up the rankings. Price is now second, two minutes off Howes, while Benavides is up to third overall.
“(Joan) Barreda had a crash so we stopped for him for about five or six minutes to make sure he was all good,” related Price. “I also went down so I’ve got to get my shoulder sorted for the next day.”
A snapshot of the highlights of Stage 5, a 374km special through the desert to the south of Ha’il 🏍 🚚 🚗
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 5, 2023
Stage Five couldn’t have gone much better for Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel in their Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+. However, a stage win to increase their overall car race lead wasn’t achieved without a few headaches. The four-time Dakar winner knows that riding on the limit is not a sustainable tactic for a 14-stage rally.
“It was a very tough stage, not easy. We tried to push like crazy and took a lot of risk. Now we’re tired after pushing so much on the stage,” said Al-Attiyah, who now enjoys a comfortable lead of 22m30s.
Stephane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz stepped on the gas in their Audi RS Q e-tron E2 cars to score today’s second- and third-fastest times respectively.
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 5, 2023
In the T3 contest there was an immediate fightback from Seth Quintero of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich. The 20-year-old American and his co-driver Dennis Zenz put yesterday’s disappointing time losses behind them to win the stage, clawing back 15 minutes on race leaders Guillaume De Mevius/François Cazalet in the process.
“I think there was still a little bit left in the tank, but we had the pace to get the job done,” said Quintero.
Austin Jones and co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin are now up to second overall in the T3 race, a shade over seven minutes off top spot now held by Guillaume De Mevius (pictured, top).
There was another stage win in T4 category for Rokas Baciuska and co-driver Oriol Vidal. The 23-year-old Lithuanian moved 4m33s closer to the summit of the T4 leaderboard.
The Saudi Arabian odyssey from coast to coast continues tomorrow with the usual mixture of terrain featuring during a timed special stage shortened by 100km, adjusted due to recent heavy flooding in the Al Duwadimi region.
Selected Overall Standings after Stage 5
T1 Car Class
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) TOYOTA 20:47:36
2. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA) AUDI +22:36
3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU) TOYOTA +27:01
4. Carlos Sainz (ESP) AUDI +34:52
6. Lucas Moraes (BRA) TOYOTA +01:01:43
7. Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) TOYOTA +01:07:57
8. Mattias Ekstrom (SWE) AUDI +01:35:56
11. Sebastien Loeb (FRA) BRX +01:53:41
T3 Lightweight Prototype
1. Guillaume De Mevius (BEL) OT3 24:15:39
2. Austin Jones (USA) CAN-AM +07:20
3. Seth Quintero (USA) CAN-AM +01:05:49
4. Cristina Gutierrez (ESP) CAN-AM +02:35:01
5. Chaleco Lopez (CHL) CAN-AM +02:39:50
1. Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira (BRA) CAN-AM 25:13:20
2. Eryk Goczal (POL) CAN-AM +16:45
3. Rokas Baciuska (LTU) CAN-AM +20:24
1. Skyler Howes (USA) HUSQVARNA 23:21:09
2. Toby Price (AUS) KTM +02:07
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG) KTM +05:16
8. Daniel Sanders (AUS) GASGAS +17:50