South African drivers and cars, Giniel de Villiers’ Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux and Brian Baragwanath and Taye Perry in a Century CR6 Corvette stole the show on a bittersweet Dakar Day 5 on Thursday, while Kevin Benavides took another controversial bike victory for Honda.
The 2021 race continued to show its teeth on a dramatic Day 5 through the Arabian Desert to Al Qaisumah on Thursday as it claimed its rookie stars when SA crew Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings crashed their Toyota out as several other top car crews struggled. At the same time, the yo-yo bike class leaderboard continued to fluctuate wildly as the first starters and previous day winner, lost time to navigation issues for the fifth day straight.
South African De Villiers dug deep in the car category to claim his first 2021 stage win by 58 seconds from compatriot Brian Baragwanath with Frenchman Peterhansel 2m25s behind in third spot.
With Al-Attiyah fourth and reigning champion Carlos Sainz ninth, it means Peterhansel now lies 6m11s ahead of the Qatari overall with Sainz 48m13s back in third and Poland’s Kuba Przygoński in a creditable fourth.
“It was not easy to open. We saw a lot of bikes coming and we got confused. At the beginning, we lost eight or nine minutes. I’m happy to have got here. Stéphane did a very good job because he stayed behind me all the way.”Three-time champion Al-Attiyah, 50, revealed
The day however started in dramatic fashion as first Toyota rookie stars Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings crashed out. Lategan had a sore shoulder, while Cummings was fine, but their heroic Dakar is done. They were not alone in their troubles and while former rally legends Sainz and Sébastien Loeb both took wrong turns and lost considerable time.
In the truck category, Karginov excelled with just under five-and-a-half hours logged behind the wheel to win the stage with fellow Team Kamaz Master driver Dmitry Sotnikov third on the day.
Russian Sotnikov holds a comfortable 33m53s overall lead over compatriot Anton Shibalov with Airat Mardeev fifth, Chilean Ignacio Casale sixth and Karginov 10th.
Moving on to the two wheeled race, Argentine Kevin Benavides picked his Honda up after a crash 100 km from home to bring it home to win the bikes and move into the overall lead despite a bloody nose sustained in his fall. He beat Honda teammate Jose Ignacio Cornejo Flormino, KTM ace Toby Price, Lorenzo Santolino’s Sherco, Sam Sunderland’s KTM. Husqvarna and KTM privateers Xavier de Soultrait and Skyler Howes, and Botswana hero Ross branch on his Yamaha.
“It was a really difficult stage that started off with a lot of tricky navigation. Lots of places were looking the same and there weren’t many references. I did a few circles in the first part and then after the refuel I tried to push to recover some time.”Briton Sunderland explained
The 2021 Dakar curse on the bike front runners however struck again as the race continued to yo-yo day-to-day. Thursday’s 14th, 7th and 22nd starters topped the podium, while the top three starters, Wednesday’s top three Barreda, Sanders and Luciano Benavides were provisionally 14th, 13th and 12th and likely to drop further down the order as more bikes finished the day…
None the less, Benavides now leads the consistent Soultrait, Flormino, Price, Sunderland, Santolino, Hoews, Branch, Barreda and Luviano Benavides overall as the leaderboard continues to fluctuate wildly day-to-day. The only upside is that the top ten remain within fifteen minutes, so this rally is anyone’s game…
Chile’s Chaleco Lopez earned another Lightweight vehicle stage win to extend his overall lead to 10m51s over Pole Aron Domzala with teenage rookie Seth Quintero third on the day to go fourth overall.
Quintero’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team drivers Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Cristina Gutiérrez brought their OT3s to the finish line, while Dakar debutant Mattias Ekström also got through the stage.
Friday’s Stage Six is from Al Qaisumah to Ha’il with 448km of special stage ahead of Saturday’s rest day.
Overall standings after Stage Five
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) X-Raid Mini 18h28m02s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Toyota Gazoo +00h06m11s
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP) X-Raid Mini +00h48m13s
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 20h15m39s
2. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA) Husqvarna +00h02m31s
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo Honda +00h3m42s
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz Master 20h16m18s
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS) Kamaz Master +00h33m53s
3. Martin Macick (CZE) Iveco +00h51m11s
1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL) Can-Am 22h25m29s
2. Aron Domzala (POL) Can-Am +00h10m51s
3. Austin Jones (USA) Can-Am +00h13m28s