The wild ride continues at Dakar, and today, Joan Barreda (Honda) was the star, blowing the rest of the field away.
Barreda, who started the day outside the top 10, tore through the 266-kilometre special at maniacal speed, cutting almost 15 minutes of his 22-minute deficit, climbing to fourth place in the overall standings. It’s the most dominant performance so far at this year’s Dakar, and that’s saying something, since this year’s rally has proven to be the most technically challenging since the race entered South America.
In some ways, the scenario played out perfectly for Barreda; not only did he get to start behind other riders who are strong navigators, enabling him to follow their tracks and make up time against them, but he made the gains on the last full day in the Peruvian desert, in the dunes. From now on, it will be much harder, if not impossible, to make up that much time against the competition.
The day was not so kind to some of the other frontrunners; Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) lost a huge wad of time due to fuel pump problems that almost knocked him out of the race. That’s one more example of why having a strong factory squad helps, as Quintanilla just doesn’t have the same infrastructure as the KTM crew to help him out, even though he’s on a similar bike. But the reigning FIM Cross Country Rally champion managed to put it right and finished. However, his struggles dropped him from a strong second-place position in the overall standings to tenth; he’s much further away from the podium now.
Yamaha’s Franco Caimi binned it badly, smashing up his bike’s navigation equipment. Another Yamaha rider helped him get through the stage, but he’s been knocked down to 38th place now, and will be fighting for a top-20 finish, not top-10.
Good news from Sam Sunderland; the KTM star crashed out yesterday without actually falling off the bike, when he suffered compressed vertebrae in a deep drop. Sunderland had lost feeling in his legs, but says that’s coming back now.
Canadian Jack Lundin finished the day in 87th. He’s plugging away on his Husqvarna, much closer to the back than the front, but he’s still in it, which is more than you can say for a load of other competitors. The withdrawal list is getting longer every day. And no wonder: the riding is tougher than many could have expected. Today, some of the backmarkers were actually stopped at WP6 and sent on to the bivouac instead of completing the second part of the stage.
Stage 5 Top 10
- Joan Barreda, Honda
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:10:26
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, +00:12:20
- Antoine Meo, KTM, + 00:13:00
- Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha, + 00:14:35
- Xavier de Soultrait, Yamaha, +00:14:43
- Toby Price, KTM, + 00:15:00
- Gerard Farres Guell, Himoinsa, + 00H 16′ 54
- Ricky Brabec, Honda, + 00:19:16
- Johnny Aubert, Gas Gas, + 00:21:17
Overall Top 10
- Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:01:00
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:01:14
- Joan Barreda, Honda, + 00:07:33
- Xavier de Soultrait, Yamaha, + 00:07:42
- Toby Price, KTM, + 00:10:39
- Antoine Meo, KTM, + 00:12:12
- Gerard Farres Guell, KTM, + 00:15:24
- Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 00:16:12
- Ricky Brabec, Honda, + 00:25:48