Factory KTM man Marc Coma was able to claw back 2m 16s on race leader Joan Barreda after winning stage five of the 2015 Dakar. The four time Dakar champion Spaniard who started two minutes behind Barreda reeled in his fellow Spaniard and passed him to lead on the road. But Barreda rode the perfect stage on board his factory HRC slotting in behind Coma to the finish meaning that he still leads overall with a 10m 33s advantage.
Coma is ultimately still paying the price for his acute tyre problems endured in the closing stages of stage 2. The Spaniard was forced to slow his pace dramatically on Mondays monster stage, handing Barreda a 12m advantage, an advantage that he accepts will be very hard to negate.
Coma said: “It was a very tough stage. There was fesh-fesh all the time and in the fesh-fesh you cannot see the stones and it is not comfortable to ride. You are always having to pay attention. After 30 km I was at the front and opening the stage again. I tried to lead at a good pace and not take to many risks, because today was very tricky. At the end, I'm happy how the day was. It's going to be very difficult to take time from Joan, but, you know, we have a lot of racing in front of us. There's the second part of the rally and we'll have two marathon stages. We will try like hell until the last day. We know that Joan is very fast and that he has a very high level, but we will try, for sure”
Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla made the most of his local knowledge and support with a stunning ride that saw him set the third fastest time of the stage. The KTM rider has now stormed up to sixth in the overall standings with five stages complete.
Sherco rider and Dakar veteran Alan Duclos is one of the elite riders at Dakar, but his comments after the stage gave an indication of the level of punishment each and every rider has to go through in a bid to race Dakar.
He said: “Frankly, this stage was like a punishment: I hated it. I was expecting it to be like that. My arms are hurting, I've no strength left in my hands and I'm right at the limit. There was no respite. You had to keep your wits about you from the start to the finish. Because the tracks were wide you could ride very fast, but riding over the bumps was like stepping on landmines! Even if the suspensions did worked as well as they could, my arms, thighs and back are done in. I'm just happy to finish this special in one piece. I set off thinking this stage would cause plenty of damage and on the face of it, I wasn't wrong. There were navigation errors and in any case, I haven't seen many people at the finish yet…”
British Dakar fans have had very little to celebrate over the last two days and that trend continued again today when it was confirmed that last remaining Brit Chris Cork retired from the race at the end of stage four after breaking his wrist in the dunes. His retirement follows Sam Sunderland’s withdrawal on stage four when he crashed suffering shoulder ligament damage.
Simon and Llewelyn Pavey, riding under the Australian flag, continue to impress with their determination and pace. Llewelyn, competing in his first Dakar, continues to go from strength to strength, finishing stage five in a brilliant 60th place to move up to 65th in the overall standings.
His father Simon also demonstrated his trademark grit by finishing the stage in 66th place and now sits 66th overall – 22m behind Llewelyn.
1, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM at 4 hours 38.16
1, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 2.16
3, Pablo Quintanilla, CHI, KTM at 2.40
4, Stefan Svitko, SVK, KTM at 3.54
5, Paolo Goncalves, POR, Honda at 4.37
6, Helder Rodrigues, POR, Honda at 6.36
7, Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHI at 7.10
8, Matthias Walkner, Austria, KTM, 7.24
9, Alain Duclos, FRA, Sherco, at 9.57
10, Toby Price, AUS, KTM at 10.05
Overall Standings after Stage 5
1, Barreda 17 hours 51.05
2, Coma at 10.33
3, Goncalves, at 22.50
4, Quintanilla at 31.06
5, Viladoms at 36.23
6, Faria at 38.13
7, Walkner at 38.36
8, Price at 39.54
9, Svitko at 42.05
10, Rodrigues, 43.24