There was some close racing at Dakar today, but when it was all over, Australia’s Toby Price prevailed on his factory KTM. Pablo Quintanilla took his Husqvarna to second, and teammate Andrew Short was third.
With Price and Quintanilla putting in solid performances after a few days of racing further back, it looks like we may see some shifting in this race. Some of the regulars appear to be making a play for the lead again, after interlopers like Ross Branch disrupted the normal flow of things (Branch is still putting in a great race, though!).
Alas, just as we’re accustomed to seeing Price and Quintanilla jostle for the lead, we’re also accustomed to seeing Sam Sunderland hit a massive patch of bad luck, and that’s just what he did in Stage 5. See below:
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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 👊🏻🙌🏻
So, his broken back and clavicle mean Sunderland’s now exited early in five of the seven Dakar events he’s raced (although to be fair, he did win one of the two he’s finished). This year is especially unfortunate, as he was reckoned to be a serious contender for another victory.
Still, KTM’s fortunes look better today, as Price appears to be gearing up for a run at Ricky Brabec’s overall lead. But Honda’s still got the advantage; Brabec has a nine-minute lead on Price (not counting Price’s two-minute penalty), and Brabec will start fourth tomorrow, meaning he’ll have an easier ride, following the navigation of the three riders in front of him. If his bike holds up and he doesn’t crash, he could really build that lead.
Expect Kevin Benavides to also push hard to gain some time on Price. Price’s penalty means Benavides is only a few seconds away from being ahead of him in the standings, and Honda should know by now that it can’t pin all its hopes on one rider.
Another familiar face that did well: Stefan Svitko, possibly the world’s ultimate privateer, managed to grab 11th today. No doubt the savvy Slovak is going to be a constant presence in the top 10 from here out. Paulo Goncalves was right ahead of him in 10th. Goncalves won’t be on the podium this year, but his engine swap on his Hero, unassisted in the middle of the desert, will further cement his status as a Dakar legend.
Xavier de Soultrait’s exit yesterday leaves Franco Caimi as the only experienced factory Yamaha in the race; he pulled off a 12th in the stage and now sits 13th overall. Given that Yamaha’s Dakar program has once again turned into a massive disaster, you can imagine his instructions are to, first of all, avoid his teammates’ fate at all costs. He does have Brit enduro star Jamie McCanney along as well, but McCanney is a rookie; he nabbed 19th in today’s stage, but he’s still learning rally skills at this point.
Finally—take a minute to feel sorry for Andrew Short. He’s had a great rally so far, but thanks to bike trouble during the super marathon stage, he’s now sitting with a half-hour penalty. He’s showing what he’s capable of, though, and don’t be surprised if greater things are ahead for this American rider.
Dakar 2020 Stage 5 results
1. Toby Price, KTM
2. Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 00:01:12
3. Andrew Short, Husqvarna, + 00:02:31
4. Ricky Brabec, Honda, + 00:03:03
5. Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:06:54
6. Joan Barreda Bort, Honda, + 00:09:07
7. Ross Branch, BAS Dakar, + 00:09:42
8. Luciano Benavides, KTM, + 00:10:33
9. Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:12:05
10: Paulo Goncalves, Hero, + 00:13:15
1. Ricky Brabec, Honda
2. Toby Price, KTM, + 00:09:06 (00:02:00 penalty)
3. Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:11:32
4. Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 00:16:01
5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, Honda, + 00:20:25 (00:01:00 penalty)
6. Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:30:54
7. Joan Barreda Bort, Honda, + 00:31:24
8. Luciano Benavides, KTM, + 00:34:00
9. Skyler Howes, Klymciw, + 00:49:47
10. Stefan Svitko, Slovnaft, + 00:56:53