Dakar Stage 5 - BMW’s Gonclaves wins stage – Coma in control overall

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It was a historic day for the BMW Motorrad team who claimed their first Dakar stage victory for ten years thanks to Paulo Gonvalves. The Portuguese rider demonstrated superb navigational skills in what was the toughest stage of the 2011 Dakar so far to win the day by 2m 18 seconds from Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez.

It was a day of high drama for the factory KTM riders Marc Coma and Cyril Depress. Coma had his first crash of the 2011 event and was forced to stop to conduct repairs to his radiator which cost him valuable time.

He said: “After the refuelling, I stopped for Olivier Pain who had just had a fall. He was unconscious, so I activated his alarm and stayed with him until my water carrier Joan Pedrero arrived. It was a genuine Dakar stage where all sorts of things happen,"  

Coma was later credited with fourth place after race officials analysed his GPS data and took into account the time he spent with Oliver Pain, who has been diagnosed with a broken wrist.

Frenchman Cyril Despres had his Dakar derailed right at the start of the day when he was handed a 10 minute penalty after missing one of three flags he was obliged to pass before commencing the stage. Despite the loss of time, Despres was upbeat about his performance and the never ending challenges of racing the Dakar.

He said: "I was told at half past four in the morning that I'd been given a penalty. I just forgot my thermal gloves, so I went back to get them and I didn't see that there were signposts I had to follow at the exit. Unfortunately for me, that's the race rules, but I've already forgotten about it after what I experienced today. Today we had 425 km of navigation and it was a  pleasure. This is why I race rally raids. We had to go looking for GPS coordinates that were genuinely like needles in haystacks. Forgetting about the time or penalties, the most important thing for me is to feel good and enjoy myself."

It was a good day for factory Aprilia rider Francisco Lopez from Chile who secured second position on the stage – his best so far of 2011 with BMW rider Frans Verhoefen claiming an impressive third.

Craig Bounds continued his strong Dakar performance by finishing 52nd on the stage meaning he now holds 50th position overall.

Fellow Brit Jenifer Morgan is out of the event after breaking her leg on stage three.

Stage 5 Results
1, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, BMW, 5:12:23
2, Francisco (Chaleco) Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, at 2:18
3, Frans Verhoefen, Belgium, BMW, 2:19
4, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 3:58
5, Cyril Despres, Andorra, 4:40 
General Standings after Stage 5
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 16:59:33
2, Cyril Despres, Andorra, at 10:14
3, Francisco (Chaleco) Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, at 21:42
4, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, BMW, 25:40
5, Helder Rodriguez, Portugal, Yamaha, at 32:05
6, Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM at 35:14
7, Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 40:01

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider