A monster timed special stage of over 400km took the 2011 Dakar Rally from Calama to Iquique in the north of Chile. The marathon stage started on rocky tracks and ended with a spectacular decline of 2,300 metres down the side of an Atacama desert dune.
In the car class, Stephane Peterhansel demonstrated his domination of desert conditions and picked up a stage win. The Frenchman’s BMW X-3 was expertly led over the dunes and managed to propel Peterhansel to second in the overall standings. The BMW driver went 3m 15s quicker than Carlos Sainz in the fifth stage and now he trails the Spaniard by just 2m 26s.
Nasser Al-Attiyah is also still well in the mix and cemented his place in the leading group with yet another soild stage. Third placed Nasser is only 7s behind second placed Peterhansel as a mere 2m 33s separates the three leading drivers.
On the bikes, Olivier Pain saw his 2011 Dakar finish early after a crash at the 231km mark of the timed special. Race leader Marc Coma saw Pain unconscious on the route and stopped to call for help. Pain was eventually airlifted to hospital where it was confirmed he had suffered a broken wrist.
Race officials corrected Marc’s time to take into account the minutes he spent with Pain and the Catalan rider has seen his lead over Cyril Despres increase to 10m 14s.
In the truck race, Vladimir Chagin seemed to have some sort of hangover from his birthday. After his third stage success of 2011 yesterday, the title holder lost more than 20 minutes on today’s special and lost his lead in the general standings Chagin’s Kamaz team-mate, Firdaus Kabirov, who picked up his second special victory of the race, now holds a lead of 13m over Chagin.
The name of Patronelli has reappeared at the top of the quad general standings. After the withdrawal of Marcos, the winner in 2010, his older brother Alejandro grabbed a stage victory that enabled him to regain the lead in the event. His countryman, Thomas Maffei, trails behind by 1m 27s.
Spotlight on Red Bull riders
Cyril Despres, reigning champ in the bike class, has seen the gap between himself and race leader Marc Coma increase significantly. We asked Cyril what was going on?
“I was told at half past four in the morning that I’d been given a penalty," he said. "I just forgot my thermal gloves, so I went back to get them and I didn’t see that there were signposts I had to follow at the exit.
“Unfortunately for me, that’s the race rules, but I’ve already forgotten about it with what I experienced on stage five. This is why I ride rally-raids: 425 km of navigation and pleasure. We had to go looking for GPS coordinates that were genuinely like needles in haystacks.
“Forgetting about the time or penalties, the most important thing for me is to feel good and enjoy myself. I saw that Marc Coma was carrying out repairs around the 70 km point. I’ve never rejoiced about other peoples’ problems. What’s important for me, is the race I ride”.
Dakar’s Just Deserts
KTM rider and bike category leader Marc Coma showed off the true spirit of the Dakar Rally when he forgot all about his precious lead and stopped on the course to help out the injured Olivier Pain.
“After the refuelling, I stopped for Olivier Pain who had just had a fall. He was unconscious, so I activated the alarm and stayed with him until my team-mate Joan Pedrero arrived.”
Word from the Waypoint
‘Just two kilometres from the finish I had a very big crash. Luckily, I didn’t hurt anything, but my head was turning and I was seeing everything double.”
Biker, Frans Verhoeven, was also in the wars on stage five but luckily he should be able to sleep off his injuries and be back in the saddle tomorrow.
Today’s Dakar Lucky Number: 220
During the descent from 2,300 metres above sea-level to the bivouac on Chile’s Pacific Ocean coast-line there was the chance for the competitors to let rip. Nasser Al-Attiyah managed to get his Volkswagen Touareg up to 220 km/h on the final dune of the day.
- Listen to Bivouac Chat: Our exclusive Dakar Rally podcast
- Head to a section of redbull.com dedicated entirely to the 2011 Dakar
- Check the live GPS positions of the Dakar participants