Frenchman Cyril Despres secured his second stage victory to extend his overall lead of the Dakar. The factory KTM rider spent the day racing with team-mate and arch rival Marc Coma with the two men separated by just 1m 41s at the finish.
Despres’ victory means that he now heads the overall standings by 9m 51s following Coma’s costly navigational error on stage three of the race .
Despres said: “After the first day, you could have said that lots of other riders were going to be involved in the fight, but in the end, there aren't too many! The gaps aren't very big at the moment and we're playing with gaps of two minutes. Today was easier for me, because I set off behind Coma. Perhaps tomorrow, it will be the opposite. I've got a lead over him and it's a fairly comfortable cushion. Mind you, it can disappear quickly, so I need to keep the same state of mind and the same amount of concentration.”
Coma said: “It was another hard and complicated stage: the mythical Fiambala stage. The special was a bit shorter than planned. In physical terms, that's good, but for me, the more distance there is, the more difficulties there are, the more likely something may happen and the more opportunities might come my way. I made a small mistake and I'm paying for it. But I'm still here and still aiming to win. With the Atacama, it's a new race that begins. We'll see what happens.”
In what was an incredibly technical day, which some riders described as a trials section Husqvarna’s Joan Bort secured third spot albeit 12m 42s behind Despres. Portuguese rider Helder Rodriguez suffered technical problems but still retains third position in the overall standings.
Irishman Stan Watt moved up to 46th in the overall standings but has been plagued by small, but time consuming problems which have prevented him being able to run in the top twenty of the event.
Speaking to MCN he said: “I’m way off where I wanted to be in terms of the standings. I’ve had minor problems, which have cost me a lot of time. On Wednesday I had a GPS failure, which lost me ten minutes and on Thursday the conditions were so hot that my fuel was vaporising and that cost me 30 minutes. So far the race has been very technical with lots of dust. I prefer the fast stuff, but it is what it is and I’ll push on and try and get the best result possible each day.”
Brits Tobias Younger and Jago Pickering were forced to spend the night on the stage. Both riders eventually made it to the end of the stage this morning. Younger remains in the race, but Pickering has been forced to retire.
Stage Five Results
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 2 hours 28 minutes 33 seconds
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 1 minute 41
3, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 12:42
4, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM at 13:55
5, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 14:17
Overall Results after Stage Five
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 14 hours 19 minutes
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 9 minutes 51 seconds
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 47:56
4, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, at 49:00
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna, 54:47 (6 minutes penalty)