Toby Price finishes stage seventh but moves to sixth outright
Stage Five of Dakar 2018 kicked up dust from San Juan De Marcona to Arequipa, the rally’s last stop in Peru before competition moves into Bolivia.
Joan Barreda was the man to beat on Wednesday, the Spaniard pulled out all the stops to recover a chunk of the massive 28-minutes of time he lost on Stage Three (Link), where he missed a waypoint and was forced to backtrack 15 kilometres to avoid further penalties.
“I knew that today we would have to battle to make up the time as it was the final stage in the sand dunes. I went all out, at very high speeds and it went well. I was able to pull back some minutes and we are back in the top ten that keeps us practically with the same options as the first day. This is really important and I hope that we get the chance to make up even more time.”
Barreda’s incredible pace overnight has moved him forward from ninth to a strong fourth place in the overall rankings. The Honda man dominated from the start to steal the stage in style, finishing ten-minutes ahead of Austrian Matthias Walkner who consolidated third place overall on the Red Bull KTM Factory Team bike.
“That was such an exhausting day. They said the rally this year was going to be one of the toughest ever and it’s certainly the hardest Dakar so far for me. After starting third I tried my best to chase down the guys in front – it’s always a gamble between navigating yourself and choosing your own path or just following the tracks in front and taking a bit of a risk. Today I really tried to push, but kept an eye on the road book and thankfully it all worked out ok. After five days riding, I am starting to feel a little sore. I had a little crash today too and hurt myself a little so that didn’t help. There is still a long way to go on the rally and so far, things are going well. My bike has been perfect and my pace is certainly good enough. I just need to stay focused and hopefully Bolivia and Argentina will be good for us, too. There is only about a minute separating the top-three so it’s still very close.”
Third on the road for Stage Five was Honda’s Kevin Benavides, who moved to within a single minute of race leader, Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren.
Benavides was celebrating his 29th birthday and with third on the day move up a place to second overall position.
“The idea was to go out and attack and it went pretty well but I had a slight mishap with the fuel and I lost some time fixing it. I went ahead, pushing hard, until I had a scare and then I took it more calmly. I finished third and I think it was a good stage, as hard as it was. The dunes were very soft and there was a lot of fesh-fesh and the second special was ruined by the cars and trucks that went before us.”
Van Beveren finished Stage Five 14-minutes and 25-seconds behind stage winner Barreda, but four-minutes behind Walkner and two-minutes behind Benavides, these are the three men that currently make up the top three standings overall.
“I am really happy with my riding today. It was a difficult stage and in some parts the sand was so soft the bikes were sinking. I rode together with Xavier, we helped each other when necessary. I am happy with this team spirit, and this is actually really important in such a long race. I tried to push hard today in the sand. There were parts where it was so difficult to keep it on two wheels, but it all went good for me. My WR450F Rally machine is running great so far. I am happy we stayed in front of all other riders all day today and it proved we are strong as a team and each one of us individually. The race is long and I will keep pushing hard.”
For Xavier de Soultrait, today’s stage five was another demonstration of the Frenchman’s acute skills in tackling tricky rally stages. Racing alongside his teammate from the start to the finish of the timed special, Xavier brought his Yamaha home in sixth position and is now seven minutes and 42 seconds behind Adrien in the overall standings.
Xavier de Soultrait
“I am really satisfied with how things are panning out at this year’s Dakar. Today I felt I rode another good stage and I managed to remain pretty close to the leaders in the overall. We rode together with Adrien in the first part of the stage and we were opening the tracks throughout the timed special. It was a great feeling to be leading the special stage and I think we did quite well considering we had to find our way in the dunes. I am happy we made no mistakes and we are both well placed in the overall. The race is long and my goal is to remain focused on the coming few stages.”
2016 Dakar Rally winner Toby Price finished the stage in seventh place, despite a crash, and moved up the outright classifications board to sixth place.
“It was all-good today, I got through the stage without too many difficulties. There was one waypoint that was tricky to find, but for most of the race I was riding side-by-side with Antoine and that was really good fun. All-in-all I’m happy with how things are going and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla had his worst result of the rally so far, finishing Stage Five in 16th place, almost 29-minutes behind stage victor Barreda. This result also shuffled Quintanilla down the outright leader board from second place down to ninth in the overall classification. Pablo had come to a standstill just a few kilometres before the finish of the special but using his experience was able to fix the issue with his bike and went on to finish the stage.
“It was a tough day for me today. We knew it would be a tricky day to navigate. I started the special stage really cautiously but five kilometres before the finish of the timed special I had a small technical issue that made me lose a lot of time. I am happy I managed to fix the small issue and went on to finish the stage. It was not our best day but the race still has a long way to go. Nothing is lost yet and I will keep racing and doing my best.”
Queensland Yamaha dealer Rodney Faggotter piloted his Factory WR450F to 20th place on Stage Five, continuing his consistent run throughout the event which has now seen him move up to 17th place in the outright standings. Faggotter is 56-minutes and 44-seconds from the outright lead, but if retaining his current consistency has a decent chance of cracking a top ten finish before Dakar ends with Stage 14 on Janaury 20th.
“Today we raced one more difficult stage with deep sand and difficult navigation. For me everything went well and I am feeling strong for the rest of the race. Today it was important to avoid taking risks and remain focused on navigation. We’ve had a rough week in the dunes of Peru and now we are heading towards the high altitudes of Bolivia. The first part of the race is done but there is still a long way to go. My bike has been running great during these first five days of racing and I am getting more and more confident to push.”
Aussie privateer Scott Britnell finished the stage in a very respectable 62nd place to improve to 79th overall.
After five gruelling days in the dunes of Peru, the 2018 Dakar Rally is heading east tomorrow and towards the mountains of Bolivia. Featuring a timed special of 313km, the day will end in the city of La Paz.
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