First, an update, since the CMG website has been down a few days and we’re late getting this party started.
The 2022 Dakar kicked off in earnest on January 2, and like last year, we started with a bunch of riders getting themselves lost, which has opened up some big gaps in the standings, with major stars wayyyyyyy behind where they should be.
Other riders have stepped forward to fill those top-10 slots; indeed, it’s been a great year for young talent, and we may be seeing a serious shift in the Dakar power structures, particularly as KTM’s new-for-’22 rally bike doesn’t seem to be working out as well as hoped.
Other drama from the early stages included torrential rains (wot, in Saudi Arabia?) that meant schedule changes to the first marathon stage, and ex-MotoGP racer Danilo Petrucci getting his bike airlifted out due to mechanical issues, and then being allowed to re-start the next day with a massive time penalty, and after that, earning a third on Stage 4 on a mangled ankle that he can’t even stand on. Wow. And, we also had driver Giniel de Villiers getting in trouble for bumping into bikers on both Day 1 and Day 2, and being accused of not rendering proper assistance after the crack-ups. Wild times, indeed!!
Dakar Stage 5
Guess who won today’s stage? Danilo Petrucci, that’s who. The former MotoGP racer, who’s never competed in a proper, world-class rally raid event before. The guy who’s racing on a mangled leg, so he can barely stand up in the pegs. The guy who’s riding with KTM Tech3, a brand-new Dakar team.
Petrucci might be new to the world of rally, but it seems he’s definitely got the speed and skill to thrive at Dakar. If he can work on his bodge mechanicking skills (his helo exit early in the race was due to an easily fixable problem), then he may be a top-level competitor at FIM Cross-Country events for years to come—not a bad second career, for a guy who glumly admitted he’s just too physically large for MotoGP these days (not his fault, blame his DNA).
While everything’s coming up Milhouse for Petrucci, he still can’t win the event, as his massive penalty early-on means he’s wayyyyyy out of contention (and so it should be). And yet, it shows it’s not a bad thing that Dakar management is now allowing non-elite class racers to re-start; Petrucci is gaining massive experience, experience he wouldn’t have garnered from the bivouac, following the race, or on a flight home.
We will probably miss the grim, fatalistic grind of the race, though, with competitors forced out constantly due to an inability to keep on top of the many factors required to compete at Dakar (“Crashed in the stage? Too bad, you go home. Couldn’t repair bike in time for morning start? Too bad, you go home. Got bad fuel from the organization? Too bad, you go home.”).
Speaking of that grim, fatalistic grind, 66-year-old Franco Picco, who’s at Dakar with the all-new Fantic factory team, reportedly had an engine failure today, although there are also reports that he’s made it to end of stage, to start again tomorrow.
Back to the Petrucci story: He was helped today by Toby Price (KTM factory team) getting a six-minute penalty. This is very bad news for the mullet-wearing Aussie, as he was already wayyyyy back from the front of the Moto category, thanks to wandering around in the desert, lost, for 45 minutes in Stage 1B.
Other bad news: Skyler Howes, who managed an amazing fifth overall as a privateer competitor last year, is out of the race due to concussion, as well as banged-up ankle and shoulder after a crash in today’s special. He was the top Husky factory rider so far this year, and he no doubt was hoping to impress the bosses with his talent. Now, he’s recovering from a crash he doesn’t even remember.
Word on the street is that Joan Barreda Bort, the win-it-or-bin-it Honda rider, is also considering retiring from this year’s race (after binning it, again). “Bam Bam” has a banged-up shoulder, and is apparently thinking it might be enough to rule him out of competition.
DAKAR STAGE 5 RESULTS
- DANILO PETRUCCI, TECH 3 KTM FACTORY RACING, 03h 23′ 46”
- ROSS BRANCH, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM, 03h 23′ 48” (++ 00h 00′ 02”)
- JOSE IGNACIO CORNEJO FLORIMO, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA, 03h 23′ 51” (+ 00h 00′ 05″
- RICKY BRABEC, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA, 03h 25′ 18” (+ 00h 01′ 32′)
- TOBY PRICE, RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING, 03h 25′ 32” (+ 00h 01′ 46” 00h) (06′ 00” PENALTY)
- MASON KLEIN, BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM, 03h 27′ 07” (+ 00h 03′ 21”)
- ANDREW SHORT, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM, 03h 28′ 15” (+ 00h 04′ 29”)
- KEVIN BENAVIDES, RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 03h 28′ 28” (+ 00h 04′ 42”)
- MARTIN MICHEK, ORION – MOTO RACING GROUP 03h 30′ 53” (+ 00h 07′ 07”)
- LUCIANO BENAVIDES, HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING, 03h 31′ 11” (+ 00h 07′ 25”)
DAKAR OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 5
- SAM SUNDERLAND, GASGAS FACTORY RACING 19h 01′ 50”
- MATTHIAS WALKNER, RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING, 19h 04′ 19” (+ 00h 02′ 29”)
- ADRIEN VAN BEVEREN, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM 19h 07′ 49” (+ 00h 05′ 59”)
- DANIEL SANDERS, GASGAS FACTORY RACING, 19h 09′ 51” (+ 00h 08′ 01”)
- LORENZO SANTOLINO, SHERCO FACTORY, 19h 17′ 17” (+ 00h 15′ 27”)
- PABLO QUINTANILLA, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA, 19h 18′ 45” (+ 00h 16′ 55”)
- ROSS BRANCH, MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA RALLY TEAM, 19h 20′ 05” (+ 00h 18′ 15”)
- KEVIN BENAVIDES, RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING, 19h 23′ 41” (+ 00h 21′ 51”)
- STEFAN SVITKO, SLOVNAFT RALLY TEAM, 19h 24′ 40” (+ 00h 22′ 50”)
- JOAN BARREDA BORT, MONSTER ENERGY HONDA 19h 24′ 48” (+ 00h 22′ 58”) (00h 01′ 00” PENALTY)