Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally featured the fifth different overall leader in the bikes division as Kevin Benavides made the most of his stage win and climbed to the top of the board.
In taking the lead, Benavides had to overcome a navigational error and a crash. After getting off course temporarily to start the stage, he crashed after jumping a large dune. In the accident, he broke his GPS system and his nose. Benavides also twisted his ankles but soldiered on to the victory and overall lead.
“Content to have won the stage and being leading the general, I am calm and focused on continuing to do the day-to-day work,” Benavides said in an Instagram post.
Meanwhile, Xavier de Soultrait, the overall leader at the end of Stage 4, lost nearly 8 minutes to the new leader, causing him to fall to Benavides by 2 minutes, 31 seconds at the end of Thursday’s stage.
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Benavides became the fifth leader following Toby Price after Stage 1, Joan Barreda at the end of Stage 2, Skyler Howes at Stage 3 and de Soultrait at Stage 4.
After falling from first to fifth overall with a deficit of 5 minutes, 26 seconds, Howes slipped further down the overall leaderboard to seventh overall. The American privateer rider is now 10 minutes, 45 seconds behind Benavides.
Hoping to stop the ‘teeter-totter’ effect in his results, Ricky Brabec tried to use Stage 4 to reset his Dakar. He finished 18th overall in that stage, saying at the time “P18. Somebody had to do it, after a few hard thoughts yesterday, last night, this morning, we decided to sit back today to get on one end of this teeter-totter.”
Stage 5 did not work out as planned. Brabec, the defending bikes champion and first American winner of Dakar, finished 12th in the stage and lost 14 minutes, 12 seconds to the leader. He currently sits 14th in the overall standings with a deficit of 25 minutes, 9 seconds.
In other divisions Thursday:
Cars: Giniel de Villiers edged Brian Baragwanath by slightly less than a minute in a grueling Stage 5.
“I must say that since the beginning things have not really been going our way, but today everything seemed to click,” de Villers said. We took it a little bit calmer at the beginning just to make sure we got all the points.”
After a tough start to the rally, de Villers lags behind the overall leader Stephane Peterhansel by nearly two hours (1 hour, 57 minutes, 26 seconds).
Peterhansel finished third in the stage but widened his overall lead to 6 minutes, 11 seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah by a little more than two minutes.
Al-Attiyah was fourth in Stage 5.
Carlos Sainz retained his position of third in the overall rankings but was not happy with his ninth-place finish in Stage 5. He blamed faulty navigation, saying in a tweet, “It looks like the road book is done one purpose to get the competitors lost.”
This doesn’t look good. It loooks like the road book is done on purpose to get the competitors lost and makes it a bit of a lottery… 😒not the Dakar I’m used to see. https://t.co/KFSmmHulJq
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) January 7, 2021
Side by sides/lightweight prototypes: On the strength of a Stage 5 victory, Francisco Lopez Contardo widened his lead in side by sides to 9 minutes, 51 seconds over Stage 4 winner Aron Domzala.
Seth Quintero holds onto the lead in the lightweight prototypes over Cristina Gutierrez Herrero.
Quads: Nicolas Cavigliasso and Manuel Andujar finished first and second in Stage 5, further cementing their respective positions in the overall. Cavigliasso now has an advantage of 23 minutes, 48 seconds over Andujar.
Trucks: Andrey Karginov earned his first stage vicitory of the 2021 Dakar Rally, and Dmitry Sotnikov extended his lead in the overall rankings over Anton Shibalov to 33 minutes, 53 seconds.
STAGE 1 RESULTS: Carlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories
Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah 3 (Stages 2, 3, 4); Carlos Sainz (Stage 1); Giniel de Villiers (Stage 5)
Bikes: Toby Price 2 (Stages 1, 3); Joan Barreda 2 (Stage 2, 4); Kevin Benavides (Stage 5)
Side-by-sides: Francisco Lopez Contardo 2 (Stage 3, 5); Austin Jones (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Aron Domzala (Stage 4)
Lightweight prototypes: Seth Quintero 3 (Stage 2, 3, 5); Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (Stage 1); Kris Meeke (Stage 4)
Quads: Nicolas Cavigliasso 2 (Stage 3, 5); Alexandre Giroud (Stage 1); Pablo Copetti (Stage 2); Manuel Andujar (Stage 4)
Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 3 (Stage 1, 2, 4); Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 3); Andrey Karginov (Stage 5)