The riders and drivers of the Dakar will have fully deserved their rest day, on completion of the 5th stage, which was made up of the longest and most varied timed sections on the rally.
The start took place for everyone in Tacna, which is the furthest point from Lima that the riders and drivers have reached this year. They started the journey back to the Peruvian capital by crossing a long zone of fesh-fesh before tackling the first tracks of the day, winding through sumptuous canyons, much to the delight of photographers and skid enthusiasts.
The long first portion came to a close in the dunes of Ilo, where the bikes and quads experienced a double dose of sand. In the meantime, the cars, SxS and trucks got to grips with a second part of the special, made up of 137 extra kilometres, with the formidable fesh-fesh already visited the day before on the menu, a terrain for the brave!
After a discrete start to the rally, Sam Sunderland reminded everyone of the reasons why he won the Dakar in 2017.
The official KTM rider managed to extricate himself from a closely fought battle at the forefront of the stage to pick up his first victory of the year and close in to less than one minute from Ricky Brabec in the general standings.
Sébastien Loeb also performed masterfully in the car race to take his second stage victory since the start in Lima, finishing more than 10 minutes ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah who reinforced his leadership of the general standings.
Stéphane Peterhansel now trails the Qatari by 24 minutes. In the quad category, Nicolás Cavigliasso continues to ride a dream Dakar with another incontestable triumph, pushing his lead in the general standings on to almost 50 minutes and allowing him to approach the second half of the rally in peace of mind.
However, it is a much closer affair in the truck race following another victory for Eduard Nikolaev who is still within reach for his team-mates Dmitry Sotnikov and Andrey Karginov in the general standings.
Performance of the day
Down but not out: Sébastien Loeb is not the type of man to give in to adversity and a lack of success. He reacted like a champion with his 12th stage victory on the Dakar following two difficult days.
The Peugeot driver even put on a veritable show of strength that only Nasser Al-Attiyah came anywhere close to matching, finishing nevertheless some way behind.
This performance will give the man from Alsace new belief for this edition of the Dakar before getting to grips with the second half of the rally.
A crushing blow
It is still not the year for Paulo Gonçalves, who started the Dakar enthusiastically, after having doubted he would take part following an operation on his spleen several weeks before the rally.
The Portuguese rider was sixth in the general standings this morning, but once again crashed severely after 155 km. With a head injury and a suspected broken right hand, he was forced to drop out of the race for the 5th time out of 12 participations in his career on the Dakar.
After the premature exit of Joan Barreda, this mishap is not good news for Honda, even if they are leading the race at the half way point thanks to Ricky Brabec.
Stat of the day
132: the number of victories achieved by the Kamaz team on the Dakar. The domination of the truck race by the Russian team is all the more topical with the success of Eduard Nikolaev in Arequipa and the fifth victory for Kamaz in five stages since the start of the rally in Lima.
Eduard Nikolaev, Andrey Karginov and Dmitry Sotnikov currently occupy the 3 steps on the provisional podium with a lead of several hours over Gerard de Rooy…
Quote of the day
Ricky Brabec: “I don’t know if it’s a dream or if it’s reality. It’s pretty wild. I would like to have a big margin overall, but it’s only one minute right now. So, I’ve just got to manage that for the next few days and just make it to the motocross start on the ninth day. The Dakar is never easy but I never thought that I actually could be in the overall physical lead. I have high expectations and I’ve put a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of money into training in the last couple of months for this race. It’s clearly paying off and I’m happy with the bike. My comfort on the bike and in myself is really good right now. I’m really happy with my result today so that way, the day after the rest day I’ll be in a good position to push. I’m hoping and crossing my fingers that I can win the stage after the rest day and make up some time, just trying to make it to the motocross start with a good lead. It would be making history on two counts: 1 – being the only American to win the Dakar and; 2 – breaking KTM’s winning streak for so many years. There’s a lot of weight on my shoulders there, but I’m not going to let it get to me – I just want to go and have fun, enjoy the moment and hopefully we can make it happen over the next five days”.