The Dakar Rally today reached the halfway point with the dispute of the fifth stage. The second part of the marathon stage proved to be a particularly tactical affair with riders seeking to secure favourable attacking positions for the coming days. Ricky Brabec still holds the top spot in the general standings and Benavides is well-positioned to tackle the second part of the rally.
American Ricky Brabec arrives at the rest day of the Dakar in Arequipa, as race leader. Today the Monster Energy Honda Team rider handled the stage with intelligence after having taken command at the top of the general rankings yesterday.
The start of this fifth stage commenced after a 161-kilometre link section from the Moquegua camp and featured a mass line start with waves of ten riders starting together. The latter part of the special saw competitors face the dunes of Illo with 65% off-piste before a further 345 kilometres of timed special.
Monster Energy Honda Team riders performed well on a stage whose objective was to secure optimal start positions for the following stage rather than an outright stage win. The rest day arrives tomorrow in Arequipa with Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides lying in tenth and eleventh places respectively. Both riders finished just 6’46” seconds behind the winner of the special.
Ricky Brabec holds the first position of the rally, with 16:51’34 and Kevin Benavides is nine minutes behind in the sixth place.
Nacho Cornejo finished in seventeenth place, 13’10 seconds adrift of the leader. The Chilean rider stopped to attend Paulo Gonçalves, who had fallen at the kilometre 155 of the special sustaining a damaged right wrist. Gonçalves, with twelve Dakar participations under his belt, was forced to retire from the race.
Tomorrow in Arequipa, the riders can savour a well-earned day of rest. The action restarts on Sunday with a stage that takes the entourage back to San Juan de Marcona.
José Ignacio Cornejo (STAGE: 17TH OVERALL: 14TH): “Today we had the stage with the mass start. I think it was not the right day to do it as there was a lot of dust, a lot of stones which made it very dangerous. At first we were all quite calm, keeping the distance by the dust until the kilometre 155 where Paulo fell. I stopped and stayed until the helicopter arrived. Then I continued calmly because there was not much dust as many of the riders had passed me. By the time we got to the area of sand and dunes I was able to push a bit harder but I didn’t know who had made up time on me. Now we are waiting to get the time back but I am happy with my pace. I wish a quick recovery to Paulo and now it’s time to recharge our batteries for the five tough stages that we have left.”
Ricky Brabec (STAGE: 12TH OVERALL: 1ST): “Today was the second stage of the marathon. Yesterday went really well. I was really mad. I had to push really hard to make up for lost time so I had to really go for it. Today was more complicated because with a mass line start you can’t really make up time – you can lose it but you can’t make it back. Now we have a rest day so we relax a bit and prepare for the final stages.”
Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 11TH OVERALL: 7TH): “It’s been a good first week for me. I think I’ve done pretty well. The first days I took more calmly but now I have started pushing more. Today I started out on the beach in the first group and until the kilometre 200 I was opening the way so I did not have to eat much dust. Then I sat back to get an advantageous start of the Sunday stage. Now it’s time to think about the strategy for what remains of the Dakar and rest and recharge the batteries.”
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