Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Sunderland takes the lead

KTM’s Sam Sunderland takes the Stage 5 win as well as the overall lead, Todd Smith top Aussie 15th

Suffering a technical issue, Australian Rodney Faggotter was unable to complete Stage 4 yesterday and has been forced to sit out the rest of the event. He joins injured Australian rider Toby Price in not being able to continue.

With race organisers reducing the length of the stage due to poor weather conditions, final results were decided following the first of two timed specials.

Top ranking Australian for Stage 5 was Todd Smith in 15th for the stage, while Mathew Hart was 109th. Mathew Hart continues to recover from a shoulder injury, while continuing to compete.

Dakar 2017 - Michael Hart - All Hart Racing
Dakar 2017 – Michael Hart – All Hart Racing
Mathew Hart – on Stage 4

“Today was a struggle to get in my gear, my shoulder was giving me grief which will serve me right for riding like a gumby! The stage saw us in big dunes at altitude & I felt like I was riding an XR 200! The altitude sucks all the power from the bike it is ridiculous, it felt like I was taking off in 3rd gear everywhere. I had to adapt my riding style because of the shoulder. Rode safe today hit all the waypoints which were challenging and caught more than a few guys out. It was quite a dangerous stage today with a few guys getting helicoptered out. I hope you heal quick Toby.”

Sam Sunderland finished ahead of Paulo Goncalves of Portugal and French rider Adrien Van Beveren, who were just 22 seconds apart.

The day was another game changer following the drama in Stage 4 when Toby Price, last year’s winner crashed and retired with a broken leg and Joan Barreda, the overall leader picked up a one-hour penalty.

Sunderland now has a 12-minute advantage in the overall standings over Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla, while Van Beveren is 16.07 minutes off the leading time.

Sunderland said it had been a heavy day and that the declining weather conditions had created visibility problems and additional hazards.

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Sam Sunderland - Image: Marcelo Maragni
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Sam Sunderland – Image: Marcelo Maragni
Sam Sunderland – P1

“It was a tough day even though the second part was cancelled, we still had 300 km in the rain and cold. I started off today with a good feeling and I tried to really focus on the navigation. There were one or two really tricky places. It would be fast and then there would be a difficult part, then fast again, so you had to change the rhythm a lot. Now I have to try to stay calm and focused because it’s only day five. It was a heavy day but the bike was awesome and the team is great. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Joan Barreda and Michael Metge, then Ricky Brabec all went astray around kilometre 147 of Stage 5, dropping precious time to rivals. The French rider managed to get back on the right track and limit the damage to some minutes. Barreda, meanwhile, frustratingly saw the front runners lengthen their lead over him.

The entire Monster Energy Honda Team in the fourth stage saw race authorities hammer the team with a one hour sanction per rider for what the organisation claims was “refuelling outside the authorized zone”. The team claimed the indications which had been given during the rider and team’s briefing were not altogether clear and the team thought that they were at the organisation’s refuelling as they entered Bolivia.

Despite a few minor navigational mistakes early in the day, WR450F Rally mounted Adrien Van Beveren quickly got back up to speed and went on to complete a near perfect special for third overall.

Confirming his status as one of the rally’s most consistent competitors, the Frenchman is now third in the provisional overall standings, one stage before the 2017 Dakar Rally’s halfway point.

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Adrien Van Beveren
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Adrien Van Beveren
Adrien Van Beveren – P3

“It was a very good stage for me. Despite slippery condition I was feeling great on my bike today. The special stage was difficult. There were so many corners and some quite technical riding from start to finish. My pace has been pretty good today. A few kilometres into the special stage there was a part with really tricky navigation, where lots of riders got lost. I slowed down, took it easy and luckily managed to find my way out in just a few minutes. I think I was one of the first riders to get out of that part and this helped a lot for the rest of the special. It’s quite encouraging to finally get a top three result in this rally. It gives me some extra motivation for the coming week. It’s a very long Dakar and my plan remains the same – I want to keep taking one step at a time, staying focused on each stage and each day.”

Quintanilla had briefly inherited the overall lead overnight when Spanish overall leader Joan Barreda was hit with a one-hour penalty for a rule infringement. The Chilean rider said prevailing conditions has made it a very tough day.

Former Dakar rally forays into Bolivia have been brief overnight affairs but this year the country is a major player, resulting in riders not only having to contend with unfamiliar territory but also riding at altitude on the Bolivian Altiplano.  The day’s bad weather added another layer of difficulty.

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Pablo Quintanilla
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Pablo Quintanilla
Pablo Quintanilla – P7

“Today was very a tough stage. We started in the morning with a mountain piste, and with rain and fog. Then we had some tricky navigation and some rivers where I took a bad exit and lost some minutes trying to find the right way. It was not the best day for me but sometimes in the Dakar you don’t have good days. The important thing is to be consistent and try to fix the navigation mistake as soon as you can. Today I made a mistake and lost some minutes but what is important is I caught all the waypoints. We have to keep racing because we have many kilometres and a lot of stages to go.”

Following his impressive runner-up result from Stage 4, Xavier de Soultrait suffered a series of small navigational mistakes that forced the Yamaha France supported rider to settle for 16th on Stage 5. The WR450F mounted rider is currently sixth in the provisional overall standings and less than 20 minutes behind the provisional top three.

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Xavier de Soultrait
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Xavier de Soultrait
Xavier de Soultrait – P16

“Today I pushed from the start and managed to get a good race pace in the first few kilometres of the special. I caught up with Barreda and we rode together for some time. Then we reached this super crucial part in the special, where everybody got lost. Other riders came as well and we lost time. I was the first to find the right way out of that point, so kept plugging away trying to make up for the time lost. My result from today might not be that good but we’re still well placed. In the Dakar you can’t expect things to work in your favour every day. Today might have been a rough stage for me but I will be back.”

Continuing to increase his pace, Hélder Rodrigues reached the end of Stage 5 without any problems claiming a 19th place result. Hoping to make the most of his vast experience as the race goes on, the Portuguese rider is provisionally placed 13th in the rally’s overall standings, a little more than 15 minutes behind the provisional top 10.

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Helder Rodrigues
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Helder Rodrigues
Hélder Rodrigues – P19

“Along with the cold and the rain today’s stage was really difficult in terms of navigation. Most of us lost time in the beginning of the special stage and we had to struggle to find the right way out of a very tricky part of the stage. Overall, I’m satisfied with how things are going. My bike is running great and I am gradually making up for the time lost during the opening stages. I’m now pretty close to the top 10 in the overall, but obviously my goal is to go way beyond that. This is one of the hardest Dakars in my career and it’s still a long way until the finish line in Buenos Aires. Everything is possible and I just need a good stage to put myself in contention for the top.”

Matthias Walkner finished his day down the order at 20th place after having lost 33.06 minutes. He is now fifth overall, 29 minutes behind Sunderland.

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Matthias Walkner - Image: Flavien Duhamel
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Matthias Walkner – Image: Flavien Duhamel
Matthias Walkner – P20

“Actually the stage was pretty good up until km 170. But then we had to leave the main road and the instructions were so unclear that I got lost. It was difficult in the beginning with the rivers and then at the end in the dunes. It was raining like hell and so hard to see, and to see the road book that I think it was a good decision to cancel the second part.”

Since entering Bolivia on Thursday, riders not only have new ground to cover but also have to accustom themselves and their machinery to altitudes over 3,500 meters.

On Saturday they continue north to La Paz, the Bolivian capital, but to arrive safely ahead of the rest day on Sunday they still have to ride another 786 km, of which 527 km is timed special. Organizers have added another layer of difficulty onto their challenge by giving them the longest stage on the day before the rest day.

Results Stage 5 Dakar 2017
Stage 5 results
  1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 02:21:51
  2. Paulo Gonçalves (POR), Honda, 02:28:58, +07:07
  3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 02:29:20, +07:29
  4. Joan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, 02:31:31, +09:40
  5. Franco Caimi (ARG), Honda, 02:34:04, +12:13
  6. Gerard Farres (ESP), KTM, 02:36:58, +15:07

15. SMITH, Todd – AUS – Duust Rally Team – KTM
109. HART, Mathew – AUS – All Hart Racing – Husqvarna

Dakar 2017 - Stage 5 - Adrien Van Beveren
Dakar 2017 – Stage 5 – Adrien Van Beveren
Overall standings after Stage 5
  1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 15:22:05
  2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 15:34:05, +12:00
  3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 15:38:12, +16:07
  4. Gerard Farres (ESP), KTM, 15:34:02, +20:57
  5. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 15:51:06, +29:01
  6. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), 15: 58:11, +36:06


Motojourno - Founder of MCNews.com.au - Australia's leading resource for motorcycle news, reviews and race coverage for over 20 years.

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