In a magnificent fifth stage at the 2018 Dakar Rally, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Joan Barreda proved too hot to handle, commanding throughout the penultimate date in Peru to take his second stage victory of the 40th edition ahead of KTM's Matthias Walkner.
The Dakar this year introduced a system of inverted sections, which saw the motorcycles tackle Sector A while the cars simultaneously raced over Sector B. The special stage covered 266 kilometres before a 508-kilometre link section took the competitors to the bivouac in Arequipa.
Joan Barreda storms to Dakar stage five win
Barreda played his strategic hand yesterday and it paid off handsomely. The Spanish ace from Monster Energy Honda Team pulled out all the stops and romped home with a lengthy advantage that places him right back in the running for the overall prize. The rider from Castellón, Spain, started from ninth position, set an infernal pace from the first control point and reached the finish line after overcoming the impressive Tanaka dunes trouble-free. Barreda finished the stage with a 14’30” advantage over race leader Adrien Van Beveren. This marks the Spaniard’s second stage victory in this Dakar, the 21st of his career and has helped him leap to fourth overall, a mere 7’30” adrift of the French leader.
"I knew that today we would have to battle to make up the time as it was the final stage in the sand dunes," Barreda said. "I went all out, at very high speeds and it went well. I was able to pull back some minutes and we are back in the top ten that keeps us practically with the same options as the first day. This is really important and I hope that we get the chance to make up even more time."
Matthias Walkner finished stage 5 second fastest. Credit. PhotosDakar.com - KTM Media Library
Following his third place on day four, KTM's Matthias Walkner had the opportunity to try and chase down the two riders starting ahead of him on today’s stage. At the first checkpoint, despite a small crash, Walkner was holding on to third position. By increasing his pace and not making any mistakes, the Salzburg-based rider managed to go one better and finish runner-up at the finish. This result narrows the margin at the top of the provisional standings with Walkner, placed third, now only one-minute and 14 seconds from the lead.
“That was such an exhausting day. They said the rally this year was going to be one of the toughest ever and it’s certainly the hardest Dakar so far for me," Walkner said. "After starting third I tried my best to chase down the guys in front – it’s always a gamble between navigating yourself and choosing your own path or just following the tracks in front and taking a bit of a risk. Today I really tried to push, but kept an eye on the road book and thankfully it all worked out ok. After five days riding, I am starting to feel a little sore. I had a little crash today too and hurt myself a little so that didn’t help."
Kevin Benavides made it two Honda's in the top three with third on the stage.
After celebrating his 29th birthday yesterday, Kevin Benavides continued in the same vein to post third spot on the day and move up a place to second overall position, 1’30” off the leader.
"The idea was to go out and attack and it went pretty well but I had a slight mishap with the fuel and I lost some time fixing it," Benavides explained. "I went ahead, pushing hard, until I had a scare and then I took it more calmly. I finished third and I think it was a good stage, as hard as it was. The dunes were very soft and there was a lot of fesh-fesh and the second special was ruined by the cars and trucks that went before us.
Antoine Meo had his best result so far with 4th on the stage. Credit. PhotosDakar.com - KTM Media Library
KTM's Antoine Meo enjoyed his best result of the event today, finishing in a strong fourth place and less than a minute from third placed Kevin Benavides. Contesting only his second Dakar Rally, today’s result moves Meo up to seventh in the provisional overall standings, one place behind team-mate Toby Price.
"I had a really good day today," Meo enthused. "My pace was really quick and I was able to catch Toby near the beginning of the stage. We rode together for quite a while, so that helped a lot. We did miss one waypoint near the finish and had to turn back, but we only lost a couple of minutes. It’s my best finish of the rally so far and I have moved up to seventh overall so I am really happy.”
Yamaha's Adrien Van Beveren remains solid, he was 5th on stage 5.
Following his impressive winning result from yesterday's stage four, Adrien Van Beveren knew he would have to up his pace in order to maintain the coveted lead in the provisional overall standings. Enjoying a mistake-free stage, the Frenchman claimed a fifth-place result for the day. With the race heading to Bolivia tomorrow, Van Beveren and Yamaha will enter the second part of this year's rally as the provisional overall leaders.
"I am really happy with my riding today. It was a difficult stage and in some parts the sand was so soft the bikes were sinking," Van Beveren said. "I rode together with Xavier, we helped each other when necessary. I am happy with this team spirit, and this is actually really important in such a long race. I tried to push hard today in the sand. There were parts where it was so difficult to keep it on two wheels, but it all went good for me. My WR450F Rally machine is running great so far. I am happy we stayed in front of all other riders all day today and it proved we are strong as a team and each one of us individually. The race is long and I will keep pushing hard."
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla made the best of a demanding stage but still dropped 28 minutes and and as a result fell from fourth to ninth in the overall after battling his way through a minor technical issue and ending the stage in sixteenth place.
Aussie Toby Price has found some friends in the desert, he finished 7th today and is 6th in the overall. Credit. PhotosDakar.com - KTM Media Library
Toby Price continued his consistent pace, placing seventh in today’s stage. The Australian retains his sixth place in the provisional overall standings after finishing today's stage in seventh, just and is now just over 10 minutes behind the overall leader Adrien van Beveren.
“It was all-good today, I got through the stage without too many difficulties," Price, "There was one waypoint that was tricky to find, but for most of the race I was riding side-by-side with Antoine and that was really good fun. All-in-all I’m happy with how things are going and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Rod Faggotter crossed the finish line in 20th position. Making use of his experience the Aussie moved up one spot in the provisional overall where he is now placed 17th.
Continuing his steady run at this year's Dakar, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Rodney Faggotter crossed the finish line in 20th position. Making use of his experience the Aussie moved up one spot in the provisional overall where he is now placed 17th.
"Today we raced one more difficult stage with deep sand and difficult navigation," Faggotter explained. "For me everything went well and I am feeling strong for the rest of the race. Today it was important to avoid taking risks and remain focused on navigation. We've had a rough week in the dunes of Peru and now we are heading towards the high altitudes of Bolivia. The first part of the race is done but there is still a long way to go. My bike has been running great during these first five days of racing and I am getting more and more confident to push."
Australia's third representative, Scott Britnell, finished the stage 111th and now sits 90th overall.
Riders will leave the sand dunes of Peru on Thursday’s stage six of the Dakar Rally 2018 and head into Bolivia. From Arequipa it’s straight into the mountains for a 313km timed special as the competitors climb to over 2,500m above sea-level. The route is expected to be faster on more solid terrain, but the riders will feel the altitude and take time to acclimatise to the lack of oxygen. Good navigation and stamina will be key to getting a solid result.
Stage 5 Results - January 10th 2018 1 Barreda Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 03:19'42 2 Walkner Matthias 2 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +10'26 3 Benavides Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +12'20 4 Meo Antoine 19 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +13'00 5 Van Beveren Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +14'35 6 de Soultrait Xavier 23 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +14'43 7 Price Toby 8 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +15'00 8 Farres Gerard 3 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +16'54 9 Brabec Ricky 20 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +19'16 10 Aubert Johnny 40 FRA Gas Gas Racing Gas Gas +21'17 11 Mena Oriol 61 SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +22'35 12 Metge Michael 14 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +22'38 13 Svitko Stefan 9 SLO Slovnaft Team KTM +25'07 14 Sanz Laia 15 SPA KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +27'29 15 Barragán Jonathan 60 SPA Gas Gas Racing Gas Gas +27'44 20. Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 03:50:46, +29:52 111 Scott Britnell (Aus)
Provisional Standings after Stage 5 1 Van Beveren Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha 14:37'40 2 Benavides Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +01'00 3 Walkner Matthias 2 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +01'14 4 Barreda Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +07'33 5 de Soultrait Xavier 23 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +07'42 6 Price Toby 8 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +10'39 7 Meo Antoine 19 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +12'12 8 Farres Gerard 3 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +15'24 9 Quintanilla Pablo 10 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +16'12 10 Brabec Ricky 20 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +25'48 17 Rodney Faggotter (AUS), Yamaha, 15:34:24, +56:44 90 Scott Britnell (Aus)
Race Schedule - Dakar Rally 2018 Stage 1 | Jan 6 | Completed Stage 2 | Jan 7 | Completed Stage 3 | Jan 8 | Completed Stage 4 | Jan 9 | Completed Stage 5 | Jan 10 | Completed Stage 6 | Jan 11 | Arequipa to La Paz | SS: 313km | Total: 758km Rest Day | Jan 12 Stage 7 | Jan 13 | La Paz to Uyuni | SS: 425km | Total: 726km Stage 8 | Jan 14 | Uyuni to Tupiza | SS: 498km | Total: 584km Stage 9 | Jan 15 | Tupiza to Salta | SS: 242km | Total: 754km Stage 10 | Jan 16 | Salta to Belén| SS: 372km | Total: 795km Stage 11 | Jan 17 | Belén to Fiambalá | SS: 280km | Total: 484km Stage 12 | Jan 18 | Fiambalá to San Juan | SS: 375km | Total: 722km Stage 13 | Jan 19 | San Juan to Córdoba | SS: 423km | Total: 904km Stage 14 | Jan 20 | Córdoba to Córdoba | SS: 119km | Total: 284km