Hero MotoSports' Ross Branch leads the overall rankings once again.
Hero MotoSports' Ross Branch leads the overall rankings once again.A.S.O./J.Delfosse

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Hero back on top, Nasser Al-Attiyah’s first win, Marcelo Medeiros secures 3rd win of the season and more

The stage proved to be relatively shorter in distance but demanding for the riders, with a 118km special section and an extensive morning road section of over 500 kilometres. We take a look at the day’s happenings

The 2024 Dakar Rally's fifth stage presented a challenging combination of a 527km liaison followed by a compact but intense 118km dunes-only special stage, stretching from Al-Hofuf to Shubaytah. After the gruelling 733km journey of Stage 3 and the strategic navigational demands of Stage 4, this stage continued to test the mettle of competitors across all categories. The day was marked by Nasser Al-Attiyah’s first win of the year, Ross Branch returning to the top of Bikes overall lead, and Marcelo Medeiros winning his 3rd Stage of the year.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Bikes

Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally for Bikes showcased a heated battle between top riders, with Honda’s Jose 'Nacho' Cornejo initially leading but facing intense competition from teammate Ricky Brabec. Cornejo and Brabec engaged in a tight duel throughout the special, exchanging the lead and closely chasing bonuses. But it was their teammate Pablo Quintanilla, who emerged as a dominant force, ultimately securing the fastest time at the 80km mark and then leading to the finish, ultimately claiming his seventh Dakar stage win. Their teammate, Adrien Van Beveren closely trailed Quintanilla, missing out on his first win by a mere 37 seconds, while Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price and Red Bull GasGas factory rider Daniel Sanders secured third and fourth positions respectively, while Mason Klein notably made a strong comeback, securing the fifth-fastest time after facing mechanical troubles in the previous stage. Interestingly, the starting order for the next stage would be reversed for the Rally GP grid, making Hero’s Joan Barreda Bort start first.

The stage also marked Ross Branch’s return to the lead in the overall rankings, now leading by a minute and 14 seconds. “After two awful days, everything fell into place. I went flat out. It wasn't easy because the glare of the sun made it hard to see the tracks, but I went 100% from the first kilometre. It was tough, but I managed to set a fast pace and had a great stage”, Quintinella said about the stage today.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 4: Hero MotoSports at Dakar

Ross Branch had a good day today compared to yesterday when he took a tumble twice and finished with a bent handlebar. Today he finished 6th trailing winner Pablo Quintanilla by 3 minutes and 42 seconds.

Joan Barreda Bort, however, had a day to forget. He fell multiple times, and reached 27th – last for the Rally GP class. Because of the reverse grid for Rally GP tomorrow, he will be starting first.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Indians at Dakar

Harith Noah had a major scare today as there was sand in his fuel, but fortunately, he finished at 21st and thus maintained his overall position of 18th. This is what Harith said – “Was a short dunes only stage. Felt really good on the bike today but unfortunately had some technical issues due to sand in the fuel. Very pleased to make it to the finish line today.”

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Cars

In Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally's Ultimate class, strategic manoeuvring was as crucial as speed – as there are different tracks set for motorcycles and cars tomorrow, which would mean whoever leads out would need to focus more on navigation. Bahrain Raid Xtreme’s Sebastien Loeb, after claiming a win in the Al-Hofuf stage, continued his assertive push but faced a setback with a 15-minute penalty for missing a waypoint, significantly impacting his overall standing. Yazeed Al Rajhi maintained his lead by adopting a conservative driving strategy, while Nasser Al Attiyah excelled in this stage, ignoring the strategic plays of his rivals and securing the fastest time of the day, bringing his total number of constructors with at least one Dakar stage win to seven. This success puts him on par with renowned racers like Audi’s Stephane Peterhansel who just scored his 50th win the Dakar. Meanwhile, Peterhansel himself deliberately lost time, stopping for five minutes to strategize for the following day. This win has put Nasser second in the overall rankings, with seven stages still to go. As we get to the closing stages of the 2024 Dakar, we will start to see more seasoned players push and showcase their skills.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Quads

The competitive landscape tightened as Marcelo Medeiros, after struggling in recent stages, reclaimed his form by clinching victory in stage 5, marking his third triumph in this year's rally. Medeiros' impressive performance placed him in contention alongside Giroud and Andújar, with the latter maintaining a significant but closely challenged lead, setting the stage for an enthralling showdown among the top three riders.

2024 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Trucks

Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally for Trucks brought dynamic shifts and challenges for the competitors. Boss Machinery Team’s Janus van Kasteren asserted his dominance early in the day, clocking the fastest time at various checkpoints, further solidifying his lead in the race. However, as the stage progressed, Martin Macik (MM Technology Team) seized the spotlight with a remarkable performance, claiming victory in the special and securing his second win in this edition of the Dakar, elevating himself to second place overall, trailing Van Kasteren by 22 minutes. Meanwhile, Ales Loprais (Instraforex Loprais Praga) faced setbacks, losing valuable time due to a stop at 76km, impacting his pursuit of the lead. He finished 15th but still maintains his 3rd position in the lead.

As the 2024 Dakar Rally's Stage 5 concluded, with Nasser Al-Attiyah's assertive victory in Cars, Ross Branch's remarkable comeback in Bikes, Marcelo Medeiros's consistent excellence in Quads, and the shifting dynamics in the Trucks category, the rally remains wide open. As competitors prepare for the challenges ahead, we look forward to tomorrow where the first day of the 48hr Chrono stage awaits them. In that, the competitors will be asked to stop as soon as the clock hits the 4pm deadline at any of the various biouvacs set up for them. The competitors won't be allowed to work on their vehicles, which means no repairs if something is broken. This is sure to make tomorrow's stage a thrilling one.

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