Considering it was the second day of the first marathon stage, the day opened easily enough.
There were no tales of madness from the bivouac, no engine swaps or other crazed bodge jobs. The only interesting tidbit we heard was 22nd-place Ross Branch, a rookie rider on one of the many smaller teams running KTMs, ended up coming to some sort of arrangement to see his tire go to KTM factory ace Toby Price. No word on what the price was, no pun intended, but we’re sure KTM made it worth Branch’s sacrifice. These are the sort of deals that give powerful factory teams an edge, and a less-worn tire could make all the difference in a day’s ride.
However, as time went on, the withdrawals started to mount up, with several tales of early exit. One of the first riders out was Honda factory man Paulo Goncalves. Goncalves seemed to be having a tough go of it this year, and no wonder, as he’s still recovering from surgery on his spleen. He missed last year’s race due to injury, and is no doubt approaching the tail end of a career that was marked by consistent, smart racing, but also a lot of bad luck. Goncalves reportedly had a minor head injury and a possibly broken hand; whatever the exact problems were, they were serious enough that other riders stopped to wait with him, including Sam Sunderland from KTM, who ended up winning the day.
Lucky for Sunderland, race officials gave him back the time he spent waiting with Goncalves, and that lost time might have actually made it a bit easier for the Brit rider, as he would have had much less trouble navigating later through the day.
Another bummer for today: Max Hunt, leader of the Malle Moto class (now called the Original By Motul class, because money talks), crashed out and was unable to continue due to mechanical damage.
Perhaps the saddest story, though, was Nicola Dutto, who was attempting to become the first paraplegic rider to finish Dakar. Dutto suffered his injury in a rally in Italy in 2010, and this year, tackled Dakar with a team of three co-riders who were intended to help him along the way. Sadly, although Dutto managed to finish four stages, one of his support team suffered a mechanical problem today, and as a result, the ASO forced them to withdraw.
That’s a heartbreaking result, but Dutto still has to take massive pride in his accomplishments this year.
By day’s end, Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) was second for the stage, and Sherco factory rider Lorenzo Santolino was third, a massive accomplishment for the small, chronically underfunded squad. All four Sherco riders are still in it, and it’s very possible we may see one or two in the top 10 at race’s end.
Santolino supposedly had words with Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren at some point in the day, but there’s no real explanation as to why. Van Beveren finished fourth, and Husqvarna’s Andrew Short, who’d had a disappointing Stage 4, was fifth.
At the end of the day, Honda’s Ricky Brabec is still in the overall lead, with Sunderland about three minutes back (once you factor in the penalties). Total mileage for the day was 345 km of special, 429 km of transit stages.
Stage 5 results
- Sam Sunderland, KTM
- Xavier de Soultrait, Yamaha, + 00:03:23
- Lorenzo Santolino, Sherco, + 00:04:00
- Adrien Van Beveren, Yamaha, + 00:04:26
- Andrew Short, Husqvarna, + 00:04:36
- Luciano Benavides, KTM, + 00:04:36
- Stefan Svitko, Slovnaft, + 00:05:05
- Toby Price, KTM, + 00:05:45
- Skyler Howes, Klimciw, +00:06: 0
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:06:32 (00:03:00 penalty)
Overall Top 10
- Ricky Brabec, Honda
- Sam Sunderland, KTM, + + 00:00:59 (00:02:00 penalty)
- Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 00:02:52
- Toby Price, KTM, + 00:03:21
- Andrien Van Beveren, Yamaha, + 00:06:36
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:09:01
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:09:17 (00:03:00 penalty)
- Xavier de Soultrait, Yamaha, + + 00:18:37
- Stefan Svitko, Slovnaft, + 00:26:28
- Andrew Short, Husqvarna, + 00:27:54