Friday, January 11
The Arequipa bivouac welcomed back the 2019 Dakar Rally convoy today after a gruelling two-day marathon stage. Competitors across all five categories were left to fend for themselves last night before embarking on this perilous fifth stage. Those making it to the finish line today have earned themselves a Rest Day before the rally’s second week points them back towards Lima.
Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and co-driver Daniel Elena (MON) finished their first week at the 2019 Dakar on a high with a stage win – their second of the race so far. It’s not all been plain sailing for nine-time WRC champion Loeb in the first five stages, but he can enjoy his Rest Day with the podium positions within reach.
“We pushed really hard from the start to the end of the stage, with no mistakes, no punctures, nothing. We had a perfect day.” – Sébastien Loeb
It was advantage to Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) at the very front of the car race on the trip back to Arequipa as he stretched his advantage over Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA). Two-time Dakar winner Al-Attiyah holds a 25 minute lead over 13-time Dakar winner Peterhansel at the halfway point.
“Seb (Loeb) doesn’t have anything to lose. He needed to go at it, to push and to get back the time. From my side, I need to focus on Stéphane (Peterhansel), because Stéphane will be the danger man here on the Dakar.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
There was a stage win for Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Sam Sunderland (GBR) in the bike race. The 2017 Dakar winner was given back the 10 minutes he spent on the track assisting Paulo Gonçalves (POR) who suffered a race ending accident on today’s stage.
“The first thing to do is give a shout to (Paulo) Gonçalves, it’s a bummer for him. In these kind of moments the race is second.” – Sam Sunderland
Xavier de Soultrait (FRA) was the day’s second fastest biker with Sunderland’s KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) third on the stage.
“My ankle is painful, but when the adrenaline takes over on the stage I don’t really notice it.” – Matthias Walkner
“We started in groups of 10 today in rocks, fesh-fesh and dust, that was all a bit crazy. It was so hard to keep an eye on the navigation while trying not to get caught out by anything hidden in the ground.” – Toby Price
As well as the retirement of Gonçalves, the Dakar also ended prematurely for CS Santosh (IND)on stage five after the Hero rider came off his bike. Santosh was transferred from the stage to hospital in Tacna.
Team Kamaz Master drivers Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), Andrey Karginov (RUS) and Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) all took turns to lead the fifth stage, with Nikolaev eventually crossing the line first. Their performance today further consolidated the trio’s position at the front of the race to put Kamaz on course for a ninth Dakar win in 11 years.
In the SxS/UTV category it has been a baptism of fire for both Chaleco Lopez (CHI) and Ignacio Casale (CHI). Both Chilean pilots are making their debut in the Dakar’s newest division and have reached the Rest Day in the Top 10. They’ll both be hoping to climb up the leaderboard during the second week of competition.
Tomorrow brings with it a much needed Rest Day for the competitors as their vehicles are handed over to the mechanics for a comprehensive tune up. Expect battle plans for the final five stages to be drawn up in Arequipa by those still in with a shot at Dakar glory.
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2019 Dakar Rally Car Race Top 5 (after five stages of 10)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 17h19m53s
2019 Dakar Rally Bike Race Top 5 (after five stages of 10)
1. Ricky Brabec (USA) Honda 16h51m34s
2019 Dakar Rally Truck Race Top 3 (after five stages of 10)
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz 19h45m37s
2019 Dakar Rally SxS/UTV Race Top 5 (after five stages of 10)
1. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) Can-Am 19h57m19s
2019 Dakar Rally Quad Race Top 5 (after five stages of 10)
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) Yamaha 20h57m30s
Sébastien Loeb: “It was a very good day for me. We pushed really hard from the start to the end of the stage, with no mistakes, no punctures, nothing. We had a perfect day. We’ll see where we are in the standings.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Seb (Loeb) doesn’t have anything to lose. He needed to go at it, to push and to get back the time. From my side, I need to focus on Stéphane (Peterhansel), because Stéphane will be the danger man here on the Dakar. Today we did a good job. I think we made a little bit of a big gap and I’m quite happy to finish.”
Stéphane Peterhansel: “I made a mistake today and we got stuck a lost a lot of time. I take the blame for this because in five days my new co-driver David (Castera) has never lost the track. But OK, we’ve reached the rest day in second overall and the car is performing well. So there are positives.”
Carlos Sainz: “We were going quite OK and I thought I saw Seb (Loeb) in front of us, but it was (Stéphane) Peterhansel. We tried to pass, we were in the fesh-fesh and we couldn’t see. So I had to stop. And then we couldn’t move again because we were stuck. I had to wait for one Kamaz to pull me out.”
Cyril Despres: “After some small problems on the first half of the marathon stage with the inflation system we started today with a good rhythm on the beach. Then after a hundred and something kilometres a rock must have hit our brake line in a bumpy section and made a hole. We lost our brakes in a long downhill and after that we stopped to make repairs. It was easy to make the finish today.”
Sam Sunderland: “The first thing to do is give a shout to (Paulo) Gonçalves, it’s a bummer for him. It was really scary when I saw it happen. Of course I had to stop, and he would do exactly the same for me. In these kind of moments the race is second. I stopped there with him to check he was OK until the helicopter came. I hope he can recover soon. After stopping for 10 minutes a lot of guys passed me so when I started again I was in a lot of dust. I just swung off it because I had no reference to know if I was gaining time or losing time. Just before the finish I saw the group again. If the next five days are anything like the first five days then we’re in for a tough time.”
Matthias Walkner: “It was a tough start in the fesh-fesh and I was riding in dust for the first 200 kilometres. It’s was dangerous and a bit frustrating. Then I caught up to the guys in front and for the last 60 kilometres I was opening the piste and arrived first to the finish. Now we have a rest day and I’m happy for this. My ankle is painful, but when the adrenaline takes over on the stage I don’t really notice it.”
Luciano Benavides: “Today was a mass start and I was in the second group. I had a good day, my pace and my rhythm was much faster than on the other days. I finished sixth on the stage which is good, but I’m also a little bit disappointed because I feel I could have done even better.”
Toby Price: “We started in groups of 10 today in rocks, fesh-fesh and dust, that was all a bit crazy. It was so hard to keep an eye on the navigation while trying not to get caught out by anything hidden in the ground. I went off a bit of a drop before catching a square edge on a bank and came off. The wrist is really backwards today so tomorrow’s rest day is definitely well needed.”
Laia Sanz: “The speed was really high today so I was happy with my rhythm. The stage was so dangerous, the mass start has no sense on a day like this. I had a problem five kilometres from the end when a stone got trapped between my rear wheel and my fuel tank. I lost about three minutes there.”