Red Bull KTM racer Sam Sunderland has finished stage five of this years Dakar Rally upbeat with his performance in clinching not only the stage win but a substantial 12-minute lead in the overall standings – despite admitting to have struggled in difficult conditions.
Riding through heavy rain and freezing cold at over 3500m altitude, the day saw his chance to extend that lead even further cut when organisers were forced to shorten the stage due to the conditions. But despite that, the Brit says that success is helping keep the mood upbeat!
“It was a tough day. Even though the second half was cancelled, we still had 300km in the rain and the cold, and I’ll be happy to get cleaned up and have a rest. It was a good day though. I started off with a good feeling this morning, feeling fast, and I just concentrated on the navigation.
“There were one or two really tricky places, and sometimes it works out OK and sometimes you have problems, but today it worked out well for me. Yesterday, I was really down and annoyed because I made a mistake, but now I need to try and stay calm and keep focused, because it’s only stage five.
“It was going really well for a while, with quite easy navigation, then there would be one really tricky note and it would go back to being fast and flowing. You had to change the rhythm a lot, and you had to be really focused because the rain added a lot of challenges too.
“A lot of guys had some crashes, and hopefully they’re ok. It’s been a long day, I’m really cold, but I’m happy. The bike has been awesome, the team have been great, and we’re here at altitude so everyone is suffering, but the good thing about our team is that everyone works well together.”
Today’s stage six sees a huge 527km of timed racing, with sand dunes thrown into the mix just to keep the riders on their toes – but there’s a big prize awaiting them at the end of the 786km overall distance; a much anticipated rest day on Sunday!
Top 10 overall after Stage 5:
- Sam Sunderland (KTM), 15h 22m 05s
- Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), +00:12:00
- Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha), +00:16:07
- Gerard Farres (KTM), +00:20:57
- Matthias Walkner (KTM), +00:29:01
- Stefan Svitko (KTM), +00:48:43
- Paulo Gonçalves (Honda), +01:08:21
- Joan Barreda (Honda), +01:12:39
- Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha), +01:23:38
- Michael Metge (Honda), +01:49:25