Chilean rider Lopez Contardo claimed an impressive stage victory riding the Aprilia RXV450 to finish 1m 30s ahead of KTM man Cyril Despres.
Despres now leads the overall standings by a significant 37m 37s from second placed man Lopez.
It wasn’t as straight forward for a number of competitors including Marc Coma and David Casteu in what was the second longest day of the entire rally – a massive 483KM timed special stage.
After winning stage four, Coma suffered a disastrous day five when he destroyed his rear tyre 100KM from the end of the stage.
He was helped out by Italian Luca Manca, who gave Coma his wheel, but still lost 39m 35s and now sits 1h 16m 55s behind the leader.
It was even worse for fast Frenchman David Casteu who crashed his Sherco 450 out of second position.
The Dakar veteran fell heavily in soft sand and ripped the muscle away from the bone on his leg, bringing a premature end to his rally.
He said: “I went down hard and I was very worried because I was not even able to set off my emergency beacon. There was a lot of blood and I was in fear of my life.”
Fortunately another rider stopped and set off Casteu’s beacon and he was treated by ambulance medics within five minutes.
Despite the severity of the stage it was another impressive performance by British and Irish riders.
Craig Bounds led the charge once again with another determined ride to finish the stage in 40th and move up to 72nd overall.
Paul Carlyle was also impressive moving up to 89th in the overall standings.
Irishman Phillip Noone secured 91st on the day and now holds 103rd overall behind Tamsin Jones in 101st and Andrew Neri 102nd.
Stage 5 – Copoapo to Antofagasta
Wednesday 6th January 2010
1 DESPRES (FRA) KTM 16:38:26 00:00:00
2 LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 17:16:03 00:37:37
3 RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 17:22:27 00:44:01
4 DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 17:40:00 01:01:34
5 ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 17:46:33 01:08:07
6 STREET (USA) KTM 17:51:12 01:12:46
7 COMA (ESP) KTM 17:55:21 01:16:55 22:00
8 GONÇALVES (PRT) BMW 17:58:18 01:19:52
9 MANCA (ITA) KTM 18:05:05 01:26:39
10 PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP) KTM 18:19:51 01:41:25
73 BOUNDS (GBR) KTM 27:30:00 10:51:34
89 CARLYLE (GBR) KTM 31:41:15 15:02:49
101 JONES (GBR) YAMAHA 38:13:16 21:34:50 03:00:00
102 NERI (GBR) KTM 38:20:02 21:41:36 03:04:00
103 NOONE (IRL) KTM 38:36:59 21:58:33