KTM’s Toby Price leads the Stage Five provisional results, closing in on the combined lead, with the Husqvarna Factory Racing duo of Pablo Quintanilla and Andrew short completing the top-three, 1min-12s, and 2min-31s off the leader respectively.
“It’s been a good day, except for my teammate Sam Sunderland taking a nasty crash, wishing him a speedy recovery. I pushed hard at the start, made some good navigational calls and by then I caught up with the Honda boys. It’s been a good stage, it’s actually the first time I’ve ridden with a big group, so it was quite enjoyable, but at the end of the day we are competitive and need to stay in front of them! We’re happy with the day and we’ll see how day six goes now… I think that’s what we’re up to… I’m starting to lose count of it all!”
Pablo Quintanilla showed his skill by performing superbly throughout the 353-kilometre special. The 14th rider to set off, Pablo was fourth fastest to the first checkpoint.
“Honestly, the stage was tough, but I feel really good. I immediately found a strong rhythm and was able to make good progress. It was dusty up to the refuelling because I had to pass some other riders, but apart from that it was okay. After that I was riding with Andrew and we did a really good team job and were able to really push. Yesterday didn’t go so well for me but today I was able to take advantage of the position I had and make up some time. Riding 200 kilometres in the dunes was hard – you are on the pegs the whole way and there’s no time to rest. It seems stage six will be similar so I will get some rest tonight and hopefully have another solid day tomorrow.”
Following a tough start to his 2020 Dakar Rally campaign, Andrew Short enjoyed his best result of the event so far, navigating well through the faster first half of the stage, the experienced American then rode with teammate Quintanilla during the latter part of the day.
“My day started off really fast today and I rode really good up to the refuelling zone. After that it turned into off-piste and dunes and while I was searching for one waypoint, Pablo caught me and from then on, we rode the rest of the stage together. It was nice to follow him and see his lines and rhythm, hopefully I can keep up the same pace myself and make up some time as the race goes on.”
Stage Five saw riders travel from Al-Ula to Ha’il, with a 564 kilometre total distance, with 353 kilometre timed special, including heading into the dunes in the latter half of the stage.
Overall leader Ricky Brabec meanwhile came home in fourth, ahead of Matthias Walkner.
“My day was good. It started out freezing cold which I don’t really agree with. It was really fast. A lot of hp and sandy tracks. I rode with Nacho. We made it to the finish which is our number one goal. First in the general is amazing. We are sitting in a good spot for tomorrow to push. We will try and catch the main group and not lose too much time. Right now we are taking it day by day. It’s too hard to have a strategy. There’s a lot of racing left to do. We are going to go day by day and hope for good results each day.”
“All-in-all it has been a good day for me today. I suffered a little with the dust at first due to starting 27th and had lost a bit of time by the refuelling. After that on the off-piste sections I think I was a little too careful in my navigation and not just pushing the tracks like it seems some of the other riders were. The good thing is I made it to the finish safely without losing too much time. It’s never nice to see your teammate after they have had a crash, it took my focus for a little while, but it seems he is not too bad and that’s always good to hear.”
Joan Barreda finished sixth in the provisional results, ahead of previous stage winner Ross Branch, with Luciano Benavides and Kevin Benavides in eighth and ninth, while Paulo Goncalves completed the top ten.
“Today I felt a little better. The second part of the special was quite hard physically having a lot of sand and vegetation, but we were able to hold a solid pace. I trying to get the good feelings back day after day to move up positions. This week has not been easy; we have encountered loads of rocks and different kinds of navigation. Now I hoping to get some good sensations form the stages in open desert. There is still a lot of race to run.”
Aussie Rodney Faggotter was 23rd for the day, and now sits 16th in the standings as a result.
Sam Sunderland meanwhile crashed heavily, and was forced to retire from the event, with reports that he did not lose consciousness and was quickly attended to by medical staff. The British rider was airlifted from the stage with injuries to his back and shoulder and taken for immediate medical checks. Thankfully, Sam is expected to make a full recovery.
“The pain of a crash is nothing compared to the pain of disappointment, unfortunately my race is over after a crash today at kilometre 180. While fighting for the stage win and feeling like everything was under control, I caught a camel grass mound awkwardly putting the bike sideways into the next one and a few later I have 5 broken vertebrae and a shoulder blade but luckily no surgery is required and should be right again soon! I want to thank my team for building me the best bike I could ever wish for and for everyone around who help out during the good and the bad moments. Good luck to my team mates for the rest of the race, put an orange one on the top step! Thank you all for your words of support during the race they help a lot! Also I want to thank @johnnyaubertofficial for stopping to help me when I was crashed.”
Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Team Manager
“It’s not been the perfect day for us today, but as we often see at the Dakar we have two sides – Toby has won the stage and is second overall, but unfortunately Sam had a crash and will not continue the race. Thankfully, it seems that Sam’s injuries are not too serious, he has broken some vertebrae and his shoulder, but we are hoping he will spend some time in hospital here before flying back to Europe and starting his recovery. In terms of the rally, the change in terrain should suit us more from now on – we will see lots of fast, off-piste sand tracks and difficult to navigate dunes. We are still in the fight for the overall victory and I am confident all my riders will give their best tomorrow and for the second half of the race.”
Provisional standings after Stage Five now have Ricky Brabec leading Toby Price and Kevin Benavides, with Pablo Quintanilla and Jose Cornejo completing the top five.
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