Dakar Stage 5 Highlights: Sainz extends lead with second win

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The fifth stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally saw the overall leader extend his advantage over second place, while two of the other class winners had returned to competition thanks in part to the new ‘Dakar Experience’ rule.

Here are some of today’s highlights:

In the cars class, Carlos Sainz became the first repeat stage winner, doubling his advantage over defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah to nearly six minutes.

Al-Attiyah finished second, 2:56 behind, while Stage 4 winner Stephane Peterhansel finished third, 6:11 behind. 

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso scored his second top 10 finish of his first Dakar, coming home in the seventh position, 12:23 behind Sainz. Alonso now trails Sainz by over three hours overall.

Overall: Carlos Sainz holds an advantage of 5:59 over Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In bikes, Toby Price became the first driver to collect multiple stage victories, winning by 1:12 over Pablo Quintanilla.

Andrew Short finished in the third position with a deficit of 2:31, while fellow American Ricky Brabec finished in the fourth position, 3:03 behind.  

Sam Sunderland, who finished first in Stage 4 before being assessed a speeding penalty that dropped him down to eighth, withdrew from the race following a heavy crash in which he injured his back and shoulder.

Overall: Ricky Brabec holds an advantage of 9:06 over Toby Price.

In side by sides, five-time bikes champion Cyril Despres took his first victory, defeating Aron Domzala by 0:41. However, because Despres was unable to complete Stage 4, he was not included in the overall classification.

Despres was able to return to action thanks in part to the new ‘Dakar Experience’ rule, which allows competitors one additional attempt to complete all stages of the race without being eligible for classification.

Conrad Rautenbach finished third, 4:14 behind.

Overall: Sergei Kariakin holds an advantage of 1:10 over Casey Currie. 

In quads, rookie Romain Dutu set the pace, finishing 0:47 over Alexandre Giroud.

However, because Dutu is racing in the Dakar Experience class following a retirement in Stage 3, he was excluded from the official results. 

Therefore, Giroud celebrated the stage win, while Ignacio Casale finished second, 1:29 behind. Giovanni Enrico finished third, 10:35 back.

Overall: Ignacio Casale holds an advantage of 31:37 over Giovanni Enrico.

In trucks, Kamaz driver Dmitry Sotnikov won his first stage, defeating teammates Anton Shibalov and Andrey Karginov by 3:06, and 3:15, respectfully. 

Overall: Andrey Karginov holds an advantage of 14:53 over Anton Shibalov.

Stage Wins:

Cars: [2] Carlos Sainz (Stage 3 and 5), [1] Vaidotas Zala (Stage 1), [1] Giniel De Villiers (Stage 2), and [1] Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 4)

Bikes: [2] Toby Price (Stage 1 and 5), [1] Ross Branch (Stage 2), [1] Ricky Brabec (Stage 3) and [1] Jose Ingacio Cornejo (Stage 4)

Side-by-sides: [1]  Aron Domzala (Stage 1), [1] Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 2), [1] Gerard Farres Guell (Stage 3), [1] Mitchell Guthrie (Stage 4) and [1] Cyril Despres (Stage 5)

Quads: [3] Ignacio Casale (Stage 1, 2, and 4), [1] Giovanni Enrico (Stage 3), and [1] Romain Dutu (Stage 5)

Trucks: [2] Anton Shibalov (Stage 1 and 4), [1] Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 2), Andrey Karginov (Stage 3) and [1] Dmitry Sotnikov (Stage 5)

Highlights of Stage 5 will air on NBCSN this evening at 6:00 p.m. ET.  The rally runs through Jan. 17.

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Lucas Oil Late Models, All Star Sprints postpone April events

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In separate press releases, the Lucas Oil Late Model series and the All Star Circuit of Champions announced the postponement of their April schedules.

Both releases cite extended federal social distancing guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the postponements and cancelations.

For the Lucas Oil Late Model series, the extension affects races at Hagerstown Speedway (originally scheduled for April 18), Port Royal Speedway (April 19), Tri-City Speedway (April 24), and Macon Speedway (April 25). The series hopes to resume the original schedule on May 1st at Ponderosa Speedway and May 2nd at Florence Speedway.

Port Royal Speedway’s Rumble by the River, originally scheduled for April 19th, has been postponed until Thursday, August 27th.

The Nininger Tribute at Hagerstown Speedway, scheduled for April 18th, has now been canceled. Also canceled are the Budweiser 50 at Tri-City Speedway scheduled for April 24th and the April 25th event at Macon Speedway.

At this time, races are set to resume on May 1 at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Kentucky. Backup dates have been announced for Ponderosa (September 4) and Florence Speedway (August 12) should they be needed.

The events affected for the All Star Circuit of Champions include Attica Raceway Park’s Spring Nationals (April 10-11), Thursday Night Thunder at Virginia Motor Speedway (April 16), the Tommy Hinnershitz Classic at Williams Grove Speedway (April 17), the Keith Kauffman Classic at Port Royal Speedway (April 18), the Johnny Grum Classic at Bedford Speedway (April 19) and the season’s first visit to Wayne County Speedway (April 25).

Series and track officials are working together to find suitable make-up dates.

“We are all in the same boat with every other sanctioning body and sports league in America right now and we want to be part of the solution and abide by state orders and federal guidelines,” said Tony Stewart, owner of the All Stars in a press release. “Originally, we were going to take a week-to-week approach, but with the stay at home orders in certain states and social distancing guidelines, it made sense to postpone the month of April. We aren’t going to put anyone on the road and at risk until we are given the green light by state and federal officials. Thank you to the tracks for the open lines of communication over the past few weeks. We hope to reschedule as many dates as possible once we are able to return to racing.”

Conditions permitting, the All Star Circuit of Champions will begin their 2020 championship point season on Friday and Saturday, May 1-2, with visits to Lernerville Speedway and Sharon Speedway, respectively.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter