Dakar Rally 2021
Stage Five of the 2021 Dakar Rally saw Stage Four winner Joan Barreda kick off the day ahead of Daniel Sanders and Luciano Benavides. Thursday saw competitors take on a shorter route of 662 km overall, which included a technical 456 km special designed to test riders navigation skills. Many riders reported it as the toughest stage yet.
Wednesday’s win saw Barreda move into second in the overall standings, behind Xavier De Soultrait, while Ross Branch completed the top three. Australian Toby Price dropped down to eighth with a navigation mistake costing him time, but was still less than eight-minutes off the leaders. Daniel Sanders meanwhile moved up into 14th overall.
The challenge of opening the stage once again proved a poisoned chalice. Barreda through the first checkpoint in third, just 17s off the leader. However by km 74 he’d dropped to a 17m45s deficit.
In comparison, the first checkpoint saw Kevin Benavides on point as fastest rider, and he wouldn’t drop outside the top three through any of the checkpoints for the day. Monster Energy Honda team-mate José Ignacio Cornejo kept pace with Benavides.
Toby Price had some time to make up, reaching the first checkpoint 4m42s behind. That gap would blow out to up to 13m35s at km 121 as the Australian moved into the top 10. By the final two checkpoints Price was running fifth.
Fellow Australian Daniel Sanders shared Barreda’s fate after kicking off the stage at the pointy end, running 23rd fastest through the first check-point, almost nine-minutes off pace. By the second check-point that gap had increased to almost 15-minutes, however Sanders was back in the top 15, a gap and position he would maintain for the remainder of the stage.
Other strong contenders on the time-sheets included Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco Factory), Sam Sunderland and Soultrait. Ross Branch the top performing Yamaha rider.
Benavides took the stage win, with team-mate Cornejo holding the advantage for much of the day before being overhauled by Benavides in the final few check-points. Benavides eventually opened up a one-minute lead despite an earlier fall.
“Today has been a hard day for me. It was difficult because of the navigation and also because I suffered a hard fall on a dune. I hit my head hard against the GPS and my ankles also got twisted. It was very painful, but I did not give up and I kept going in the stage. It was not easy but I was finally able to win and I am very happy. Tomorrow, it will be my turn to open the track and I will have to defend myself to make any progress.”
José Ignacio Cornejo
“This fifth stage was very long but also very tough. There was a bit of everything: rocks, trails and fast sections. At the start of the special there was a difficult area where many riders got lost, luckily, I was able to get passed it no problem which meant that I gained a lot of time. I caught up with the riders in front and I opened the track for 320 km. I am very happy with the result. It was not what we had planned as a strategy, but I made the most of the opportunity. We hope to continue having solid stages and be in the fight for the top positions.”
Toby Price had been sitting five-minutes off pace in the final checkpoints, however he shaved that down to just 1m20s, claiming third for the stage, a result that will boost his position in the standings. That was despite riding the last 120 kilometres without a brake pedal after it had come adrift earlier.
“Quite a difficult stage today – the first 200 kilometres involved some really technical navigation. We thought the first few stages were tricky, this one was another couple of levels worse. I made a few mistakes early on and the guys ahead got away a little bit, but overall I tried to manage the pace of the whole special and make sure I got through with no issues. That’s day five done, day six is looking pretty tough too, but then it’s on to the rest day.”
Santolino and Sunderland completed the top five, with standings leader into the stage Soultrait sixth. Howes, Walkner, Branch and Quintanilla completed the top 10..
“Day five is in the books and done thankfully. It involved a lot of tricky navigation through the canyons and rocks at the beginning of the stage as there weren’t many references and it was difficult to find the right track. I certainly did a few circles there in the first part. After that I had to push because I knew I had lost some time, but everything went well, and I was happy to reach the finish. It’s been another long day, especially with the liaison back to the bivouac, so I’ll get some rest now for tomorrow. One more day of racing and then it’s the rest day and I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
“It was another long stage and day on the bike today. It was really hard work both physically and mentally but after a while I found myself in a group of riders, which made it a little easier. There were some big dunes towards the end of the stage, which were fun and it’s good to remain up front overall. Today was tough on the body. I’ll be resting well tonight and look to end the first week of racing on a positive note before the rest day on Saturday.”
Defending champion Brabec finished 12th after a late charge.
“Yesterday we had an idea to start at the rear. I don’t think that it was a very good idea. Today I lost the way and wasn’t trusting myself, I was second-guessing myself. I fell a little far back. It would have been really easy to follow tracks, but unfortunately we went into an area that was solid rock and I couldn’t really see the tracks, so it was really tough. I got to one spot and there were six guys sitting around lost and doing circles. From that point, I went on and opened up one way point, but couldn’t find the next one after that. I started second-guessing myself and doubting, and those guys were following me. It was just a big catastrophe out there. We lost a lot of time and I didn’t really know what to do. I was thinking, ‘This is it. I just ruined the Dakar’. I feel like maybe the dream has crashed, but there’s still a lot of racing to do. Hopefully, something will turn around and go in our favour. Now we don’t really know what will happen.”
Daniel Sanders finished the day in 16th, 16m01s off the winning pace, but still faring better than Barreda in 17th.
“I really enjoyed it today, even though it was really, really tiring by the end. I lost a fair amount of time first thing, but then we hit the dunes and I just checked out a little bit and opened it up. It was great jumping off the top of the dunes, and I think I made up some time there too, so that helped. I knew the guys behind would be pushing hard too, so I just tried to keep a really strong pace. It was good fun but physical – I’m glad to get to the end of a really tough day.”
“We predicted that today’s stage would be complicated and it was. We started first and the opening kilometres were difficult: there was some navigation between the mountains and a lot of rocks and it was hard to find the route. In the more open parts we had a complication and had to go back and find the CP again. From that point I joined the other riders and we stayed quite close together. In the final part of the dunes things got quite hard: it became very physical. It was tough, but I think we did the best we could. We are adapting, but it is difficult to keep such a high pace with such confusing navigation.”
Michael Burgess finished up the day in 39th, while Joseph Houlihan completed Stage Five in 57th.
Price reclaims fourth in standings
With his stage win Kevin Benavides also moved into the provisional lead, 2m31s ahead of Soultrait, with Cornejo a further 1m11s behind.
Toby Price is only a second adrift of third place, and 3m43s off the lead, winning back about four-minutes (and four positions) compared to where he sat following Stage Four. That also makes Toby top overall KTM.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate Sam Sunderland sits fifth, ahead of Sherco’s Santolino, and Skyler Howes in sixth and seventh respectively.
Ross Branch, Joan Barreda and Pablo Quintanilla complete the top 10 overall, with Barreda dropping from second following the previous stage.
Australia’s Daniel Sanders now holds 13th in the standings, improving a position although the gap to the front runners did increase.
Australian Michael Burgess now holds 38th in the combined standings. Countryman Joseph Houlihan is 63rd.
Stage Six shortened
Due to the difficulties encountered in finishing Stage Five by a significant number of competitors, the decision has been taken to delay the departure of the riders and crews from the bivouac in Al Qaisumah by 1 hour 30 minutes. The route of the special on Stage Six has therefore been shortened by one hundred kilometres in order to make the programme less tough. However, the competitors will still have to tackle sand and dunes. Though navigational skills will again play a decisive role in the outcome of this special, the riders’ and drivers’ physical capacities will also be sorely tested, demanding a considerable effort from them. After that, they will fully deserve the rest day that will take place in Ha’il.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage Five Results (Provisional)
|1||K. BENAVIDES||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||00:00:00=|
|2||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:01:00=|
|3||T. PRICE||AUS||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:01:20▲|
|4||L. SANTOLINO||ESP||SHERCO FACTORY||+00:02:29▼|
|5||S. SUNDERLAND||GBR||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:04:17=|
|6||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HT RALLY RAID HUSQVARNA RACING||+00:07:55=|
|7||S. HOWES||USA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||+00:10:43▲|
|8||M. WALKNER||AUT||RED BULL KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:11:03▲|
|9||R. BRANCH||BWA||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:11:05▼|
|10||P. QUINTANILLA||CHL||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY||+00:12:15=|
|11||S. SVITKO||SVK||SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM||+00:13:39▼|
|12||R. BRABEC||USA||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:14:12▲|
|13||L. BENAVIDES||ARG||ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY||+00:14:23=|
|14||M. GIEMZA||POL||ORLEN TEAM||+00:15:50▼|
|15||D. SANDERS||AUS||KTM FACTORY TEAM||+00:16:01=|
|16||J. BETRIU||ESP||FN SPEED – KTM TEAM||+00:18:27▲|
|17||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||MONSTER ENERGY HONDA TEAM 2021||+00:19:11▼|
|18||F. CAIMI||ARG||MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM||+00:24:34▼|
|19||M. MICHEK||CZE||ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP||+00:27:13▼|
|20||S. BÜHLER||DEU||HERO MOTOSPORTS TEAM RALLY||+00:30:24▼|
|39||M. BURGESS||AUS||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||+01:35:01▲|
|57||AJ. HOULIHAN||AUS||NOMADAS ADVENTURE||+02:55:26▼|
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Standings – After Stage Five (Provisional)
|2||X. DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||HUSQVARNA||20:18:10||+0:02:31|
|3||JI. CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHL||HONDA||20:19:21||+0:03:42|
|9||J. BARREDA BORT||ESP||HONDA||20:29:41||+0:14:02|
|15||A. VAN BEVEREN||FRA||YAMAHA||20:54:30||+0:38:51|
2021 Dakar Schedule
|Stage||Date||Start > Finish||Total||Special|
|P||Saturday, January 2, 2021||Jeddah > Jeddah||11 km||11 km|
|1||Sunday, January 3, 2021||Jeddah > Bisha||622 km||277 km|
|2||Monday, January 4, 2021||Bisha > Wadi Al Dawasir||685 km||457 km|
|3||Tuesday, January 5, 2021||Wadi Al Dawasir > Wadi Al Dawasir||630 km||403 km|
|4||Wednesday, January 6, 2021||Wadi Al Dawasir > Riyadh||813 km||337 km|
|5||Thursday, January 7, 2021||Riyadh > Buraydah||625 km||419 km|
|6||Friday, January 8, 2021||Buraydah > Ha’il||655 km||485 km|
|Rest||Saturday, January 9, 2021||Ha’il (Rest Day)||–||–|
|7||Sunday, January 10, 2021||Ha’il > Sakaka||737 km||471 km|
|8||Monday, January 11, 2021||Sakaka > Neom||709 km||375 km|
|9||Tuesday, January 12, 2021||Neom > Neom||579 km||465 km|
|10||Wednesday, January 13, 2021||Neom > Al-Ula||583 km||342 km|
|11||Thursday, January 14, 2021||Al-Ula > Yanbu||557 km||511 km|
|12||Friday, January 15, 2021||Yanbu > Jeddah||452 km||225 km|