In the sandy surroundings of the day, humongous rocks served as landmarks to avoid costly navigation mistakes. Less technical than the previous ones, but just as impressive with the dunes, and gigantic sandy hills offering a mix of sand and soil to the competitors.
Paulo Goncalves, continued to press forward today as well and delivered a back to back Top 10 finish for the team at the 10th place. Sebastian Buhler maintained his good form and brought the stage home in the 21st place.
Santosh too had a good stage today, finding his rhythm to finish the stage in the 37th place while Joaquim Rodrigues suffered a minor crash, but managed to close the stage in 25th position.
After today’s steady performance, Paulo Goncalves climbed up several positions for the second day in a row to finish on 59th place in the overall rankings. Buhler maintained his Top 20 position to reach 19th place and Santosh climbed up a few more ranks today to break into the top 40 at 39th place in the overall rankings at the end of the stage 5.
With just one more stage to go and the stage complexion changing from being more technical to wide open desert, tomorrow’s stage is expected to see more competitors trying to push hard in tackling the longest stage of the Dakar yet, with 830 kms to be done, including the 478 km special.
Paulo Goncalves (Comp No. 8) said, “Today there was a change in the scenery from the trials and stony tracks of the last 3-4 days to the more open desert today. In the first part of the stage I tried to push hard and rode well. After the refuelling, there was 200 kms of open off-piste stage that could be fast but dangerous as well. So I decided to calm my pace a bit down to avoid crashes and arrived well for me and the Hero team. Now we have one more day before we get a rest day to recover well to race for the second week. ”
Sebastian Buhler (Comp No: 32) said, “It was a hard stage and we had almost 200 kms in the off-piste towards the end. I think I did well today, tried not to go too fast to avoid making any mistakes. The rally is very long and I want to finish with a good place. So let’s see how it goes tomorrow. ”
CS Santosh (Comp No: 50) said, “What an amazing last 2 days it has been at the Dakar. The last two stage have been tough but really incredible. In the beginning part of the stage today we had some rocks, sands and piste but the second half, for about 200 kms was just open off-piste, camel grass and undulations. I really enjoyed the riding the stage today and I am starting to feel better and more confident on the bike. Can’t wait to see what the next few days are going to bring to us.”
Joaquim Rodrigues (Comp No. 27) said, “Difficult day for me today as the stage was really hard. In the beginning I was riding really well but in the second half I had a crash and lost some time. But I am ok for tomorrow and happy that I was able to get my Hero back to the finish line.”