The second half of the marathon stage for the 2016 Dakar Rally, where riders and teams are forbidden from working on their machines until today’s liaison stage, Stage 5 had the added challenges beyond its 642km total distance and 327km special section, which brought them into Bolivia.
The navigational challenges also increased on Stage 5, as The Dakar begins to separate the wheat from the chaff. With most of the stage at over 11,00 feet, with a peak altitude of 15,000 feet, competitors traded the hardship of rain for altitude, an equally formidable obstacle.
The racers in orange fared the best in the high mountains, as Stage 5 was dominated by KTM riders, with Toby Price taking the top honors, followed by Stefan Svitko and Matthias Walkner. This result closes Svitko and Price to under two minutes of overall leader Paul Gonçalves, who struggled on the stage with altitude sickness, losing roughly nine minutes in the process.
“They were long stages and I had to look after the bike and make sure we made no mistakes, and also look after the tires. Yesterday we were back a little bit but we still made some good times,” explained KTM rider Toby Price.
“Today was a stage win and we’re back in contention again and hopefully we can get a good day in tomorrow. Today was really fast tracks but the bike is holding up well. The special went from wide open to tight technical and I had to adjust to that. Now I have to maintain a good position each day.”
Other items of note include the Top 10 finish for Yamaha Racing, with Helder Rodrigues finishing seventh on Stage 5, and KTM rider Laia Sanz being awarded 32 minutes from her time, for her actions in helping injured rider Pela Renet, who fractured his skull in a brutal crash on Stage 4. Sanz is now 19th overall.
Friday will be a true test for the 2016 Dakar Rally racers, with another loop course, this time with a 542km special. Expect to see the leaderboard shuffle some more, and gaps to emerge. Saturday will be another day of racing, with Sunday the rest day for the motorbike competitors.
Top 10 from Stage 5 – Jujuy to Uyuni – of the 2016 Dakar Rally:
|9||PEDRERO GARCIA||ESP||SHERCO TVS||04:11:20||00:07:36||–|
Overall Top 10 of the 2016 Dakar Rally:
Source: Dakar; Photos: HRC, Husqvarna, KTM, & Yamaha Racing