AFTER a tumultuous Stage 4, with race leader Sam Sunderland forced to withdraw due to injury, Stage 5 of the 2018 Dakar got off to a tense start.
266km of coast-hugging dunes awaited riders in yesterday’s special, with the route climbing to 1700m in the southern mountains of Peru.
Fesh fesh (quicksand), demanding navigation and technical sections pushed the riders to their limits in the penultimate stage before the mid-race rest day.
Yamaha’s Adrien Van Beveren, who finished Tuesday atop the leaderboard – both for that stage and overall – came fifth yesterday. However, he retained his top spot in the general classification.
But the performance of the day has to go to Honda’s Joan Barreda, who rocketed nine places up the overall leaderboard to fourth after taking first position in Stage 5 by a huge 10-minute margin, finishing in 3 hours, 19 minutes and 42 seconds.
Meanwhile, a third place stage finish – 12 minute and 20 seconds behind teammate Barreda – saw Kevin Benavides climb to second overall, just one minute behind Van Beveren.
With defending champion Sunderland out of the picture, Austrian Matthias Walkner has undertaken the challenge of winning the trophy for KTM’s 17th year running. Finishing yesterday’s stage in second – 10 minutes and 26 seconds behind Barreda, he climbed from fourth to third in the overall classification, only 1 minute and 14 seconds behind Van Beveren.
His Red Bull KTM Factory Teammate Toby Price remained in sixth overall, while Antoine Meo rose from 10th to seventh following a fourth place finish in stage 5.
Meanwhile, Britain’s only hope at a Dakar trophy (the Malle Moto trophy that is) Lyndon Poskitt, came third in his class and 49th overall.