2019 Dakar Stage 5 Mid-Race Report

Americans shine at Dakar

The five stages held so far in this year’s Dakar Rally have produced five different winners, as not one rider has totally dominated. Stage 5, the second half of the mountain stage, sent riders from the mountains to the dunes of Peru, where American Ricky Brabec managed to hold on to the lead he established the day before. At the break, the Monster Energy Honda rider sat atop the provisional standings by 59 seconds over stage 5 winner Sam Sunderland of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team.

American Ricky Brabec arrived at the rest day of the Dakar in Arequipa as the race leader. The second part of the marathon stage proved to be a particularly tactical affair and Brabec was happy with his performance. “Today was the second stage of the marathon,” Brabec said. “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.”Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda

Fellow American Andrew Short was having a good race, as well, and ended up with an impressive top-six result for stage 5, moving the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider into 10th place in the overall provisional standings. Stage 5 marked the halfway point of the rally and the competitors now get a day’s rest.

During stage 5, Andrew Short had a chance to race alongside his Monster Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing teammate Pablo Quintanilla. After five stages, Pablo was third in the overall provisional standings. “It was really fun to ride with Pablo pretty much all day,” Short said. “From the beach we went to the big dunes. It was really steep and we were going up and down all the time. When I have someone like Pablo who I can trust, it’s a lot easier for me to ride fast. The more I ride with the top guys, the better I can get. I am getting more experience and I hope I can keep improving during the second week of racing.”Courtesy of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
Pablo Quintanilla, the Chilean rally star, claimed a 13th-place result in stage 5, which puts him in third overall for the week, a great position to fight for the provisional overall lead. “Five days done and I’m in a great position in this rally,” Quintanilla said. “The first part of the stage was a lot of fun. I took the lead after the mass start, but then decided to stay off the gas a bit. My eyes are focused on the overall classification and I’m in a good spot to attack during the second week.”Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland stopped to assist downed rider Paulo Goncalves (who is now out of the race with a suspected broken hand). After spending nearly 10 minutes with Goncalves, Sunderland continued on his way and was awarded time back, ultimately crediting him with the stage 5 win.Red Bull Content Pool
Toby Price again put in an extremely brave performance to place ninth on the tough stage 5. Despite aggravating the injury to his wrist, the 2016 Dakar champion was able to maintain a solid pace throughout the timed special and goes into the rest day in a very creditable fourth place overall. “It was a really, really tough day for me today,” Price said. “Starting in groups of 10 on the beach means you not only have to fight for position with other riders, you have to keep an eye on your navigation while dodging the rocks and dust thrown up by the guys in front. My pace today was good, but I cased out on one drop and that put a lot of strain through my wrist again. I was able to continue, but I am really thankful for the rest day now. I am happy to have reached the halfway stage of the rally, so hopefully after a day off I will be ready to go again on Sunday.”Red Bull Content Pool
Despite losing a little time with just 5 kilometers to go, Laia Sanz completed the fifth stage in 20th position and now sits 19th in the overall standings. “My day went well today,” Sanz said. “I am happy with my speed and rhythm, especially with everyone riding together and the times being so close. I’m not so keen on the mass start. It’s more difficult to judge things when you are riding in a group like that. I did lose a little time today right near the end of the stage when a rock got stuck in my rear wheel, but overall it was another good day. I’m pleased with how the rally is going so far, but I’m definitely looking forward to the rest day tomorrow.”Red Bull Content Pool
Enjoying his best ride of the Dakar Rally to date, Luciano Benavides piloted his KTM to sixth place, earning himself an excellent start position for Sunday’s stage. The Argentinian continues to gain important knowledge and experience and is keen to improve his overall position even further during the second half of the event. “Today was a really good day for me, my pace and rhythm were a lot better and I felt very comfortable for the whole stage,” Benavides said. “I am pleased with my result, and it is great for my confidence going into the rest day and the second half of the rally. Physically and mentally I feel fine. I was able to focus a lot better today and I think it showed in my pace. It’s great when everything comes together like that.”Red Bull Content Pool
It was another strong stage for defending Dakar champion Matthias Walkner. After clearing the group that had formed following the morning’s mass start, the Austrian was able to increase his pace and put in an excellent performance on the latter half of the special. Walkner was the first to cross the line, posting the third fastest time just over three minutes down on teammate Sunderland. Unfortunately, a three-minute speed penalty then dropped Matthias to an eventual 10th.Red Bull Content Pool
Pleased at having a break on the rest day, Ricky Brabec is anxious to get back to action. “I’m looking forward to the next four days,” Brabec said. “Hopefully I can stay in the fight and keep pushing. I feel great and my body is at 100 percent.”Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda
Short was also looking forward to the rest of the week. “I’m getting more experience and I hope I can keep improving during the second week of racing,” he said.Courtesy of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

2019 Dakar Rally Overall Standings After Five Stages

Position Rider Brand
1 Ricky Brabec Honda
2 Sam Sunderland KTM |  
3 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna
4 Toby Price KTM
5 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha
6 Kevin Benavides Honda
7 Matthias Walkner KTM
8 Xavier de Soultrait Yamaha
9 Stefan Svitko KTM
10 Andrew Short Husqvarna