Arequipa to San Juan Total 521 miles with 197 mile Special stage
Sam Sunderland fired himself to within 59s of the overall lead of Dakar 2019 with a brilliant stage five win. The 29 year old Brit had to wait to be confirmed as the day’s winner after getting time given back to him after he stopped to assist fallen factory Honda rider Paolo Goncalves just before Way Point 4 of the timed Special Stage.
With his time corrected the Red Bull KTM rider won the stage by a significant 3m 23s from stage three winner Xavier De Soultrait meaning that he has jumped up to second in the overall standings less than a minute behind Honda man Ricky Brabec.
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Sunderland said: "Obviously the first thing is to wish Goncalves the best after his accident – it’s always scary when you see that happen in front of you. I stayed with him for over 10 minutes but it’s difficult to gauge how long you’re actually stopped for. A lot of riders passed us and so when I got going again, I just pushed as hard as I could. It’s so difficult when you are behind like that, to know if you are gaining on the guys in front or losing ground. I saw the group just before the finish so I knew I had made up some time. I’m lying second now and it’s been a good first half to the race, but I know if the next five days are going to be anything like these we’ve just had, it’s going to end up as a seriously tough rally.”
The race now enters a rest day and there is just 3m 21s separating the top four in the standings with Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla in third and Sunderland’s KTM team-mate and 2016 Dakar winner, Toby Price in fourth.
Britons Max Hunt has been forced to retire from the race following a heavy crash, leaving his HT Husqvarna too badly damaged to continue. It’s a devastating end to Hunt’s race who was leading the Malle Moto standings and running inside the top 40. Having secured two impressive Dakar finishes in 2017 and 2018, Hunt elected to compete in the Malle Moto class in 2019 where riders are allowed no outside assistance and have to do all of their own maintenance.
Fellow Brit Richard Main is still in the race and making impressive strides up the leader board. He finished the stage in 73rdposition, a result that moves him up to 75thin the overall classification.
Stage 5 results
1 Sam Sunderland KTM 4h 11m 48s
2 Xavier De Soultrait Yamaha + 3m 23s
3 Matthias Walkner KTM + 3m 32s
4 Lorenzo Santolino Sherco + 4m 00s
5 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 4m 26s
6 Andrew Short Husqvarna + 4m 36s
7 Luciano Benavides KTM + 4m 36s
8 Stefan Svitko KTM + 5m 05s
1 Ricky Brabec Honda 16h 51m 34s
2 Sam Sunderland KTM + 59s
3 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 2m 52s
4 Toby Price KTM + 3m 21s
5 Matthias Walkner KTM + 6m 17s
6 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 6m 36s
7 Kevin Benavides Honda + 9m 01s
8 Xavier De Soultrait Yamaha + 18m 37s