Monster Energy Honda Team overcome a tricky stage to obtain fine results. Ricky Brabec, on his arrival at the bivouac in Ha’il, expresses his satisfaction at continuing to hold the leadership. Three Honda riders now occupy the top five overall places.
From the great rocks of Tabuk to the sandy plains of Ha’il. Today’s agenda provided the riders with a fifth stage filled with rocky paths and boulders on both fast track and sandy off-road with plenty of camel grass to tackle. This led to the formation of a large group of riders who rode bunched together from the refuelling to the end of the special. The trek covered some 353 kilometres against the clock – 100 less than yesterday – and took the competitors from Al Ula to the new bivouac situated in the northeast of the country. The dunes, which were present only in the distant landscape, are highly likely to be the main protagonists over the coming days.
After starting out among the first positions, the team riders set about minimizing the time that their pursuers were intent on clawing back from them. Ricky Brabec staged a mission to maintain his place at the head of the overall leader board. The American rider, finishing in fourth place on the day, was thus able to keep the day’s winner Price within a three minute distance. Brabec holds top spot in the general rankings with a nine-and-a-half minute advantage over the nearest second place rival.
Joan Barreda noted how much the sensations in the race have improved, with the Spaniard looking far more at ease than on previous days. Posting sixth place on the stage leaves the Dakar Legend in seventh position overall, with the rider looking set to improve further over the coming days.
Third place in the overall standings is, likewise, a satisfactory position for Kevin Benavides who celebrates his 31st birthday today. The Argentinean finished in a buoyant ninth position, some 12 minutes adrift of the winner, but is confident of being able to take advantage of the favourable starting position to strike hard tomorrow.
Yesterday’s winner, Nacho Cornejo opened the track for large stretches of today’s stage until he was reached, first by Ricky Brabec, then by other riders. The Chilean is fifth in the overall standings, a position which he wishes to improve upon tomorrow on the longest stage of the opening half of the rally, before the riders get a well-earned rest.
Tomorrow sees the sixth stage from De Ha’il to the capital of the country, Riyadh, where the rest day awaits. Like today, the riders will once again receive the roadbook shortly before starting the special – the longest scheduled timed stage of the rally so far. The total distance to cover from bivouac-bivouac will be 830 kilometres.
This is… Stage 6
Link > 352 km – Special > 478 km – Total > 830 km
The change of scenery is dramatic. This time, the special stage is 100% sand, entirely off-road. After a relatively fast first section, obstacle experts will have the advantage in the dunes. Riders having previously honed their skills in the Sahara desert will certainly have the upper hand. Then it will be time to rest.
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Results Stage 5
|1||Price Toby||1||AUS||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||03:57'33|
|2||Quintanilla Pablo||5||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+01'12|
|3||Short Andrew||6||USA||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||+02'31|
|4||Brabec Ricky||9||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+03'03|
|5||Walkner Matthias||2||AUT||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+06'54|
|6||Barreda Joan||12||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+09'07|
|7||Evan Branch Ross||18||BWA||BAS DAKAR KTM RACING TEAM||KTM||+09'42|
|8||Benavides Luciano||16||ARG||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+10'33|
|9||Benavides Kevin||7||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+12'05|
|10||Goncalves Paulo||8||POR||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||Hero||+13'15|
|13||Cornejo José Ignacio||17||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+14'57|
Provisional Standings after Stage 5
|1||Brabec Ricky||9||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||19:07'19|
|2||Price Toby||1||AUS||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+09'06|
|3||Benavides Kevin||7||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+11'32|
|4||Quintanilla Pablo||5||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+16'01|
|5||Cornejo José Ignacio||17||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+20'25|
|6||Walkner Matthias||2||AUT||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+30'54|
|7||Barreda Joan||12||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+31'24|
|8||Benavides Luciano||16||ARG||KTM Factory Racing Team||KTM||+34'00|
|9||Howes Skyler||59||USA||Klymciw Racing||KTM||+49'47|
|10||Svitko Stefan||19||SLO||Slovnaft Team||KTM||+56'53|