Dakar 2023 | Al Attiyah wins Stage 5 to extend lead
It was a dramatic Stage 5 for all categories as Nasser Al Attiyah took the stage win in his Toyota after having complained about the Audis getting an undue 11bhp power advantage from the BOP rules. This, even after Carlos Sainz welcomed the rules as a way of balancing the cars after Audi's 100kg weight disadvantage. He was followed on the podium by Sainz himself, who needed a good result after several bad stages, and his teammate Stephane Peterhansel. Sebastian Loeb in the BRX buggy suffered a crash late in the stage leaving him more than 20m down. With this, Al Attiyah extends his overall lead over Stephane Peterhansel and Yazeed Al Rajhi in his independent Toyota, while Carlos Sainz looks for a way back into the race for the lead.
In the bikes category, it was Adrien Van Beveren in his Monster Energy Honda who won stage 5 with an inspired run, followed very closely by teammate Jose Cornejo Ignacio Florim, just 13s behind. The podium was finished out by Mason Klein in his BAS World KTM. The result helped Klein get up to third overall in the rankings, behind Husqvarna's Skyler Howes and KTM's Kevin Benvides.
After Joaquim Rodrigues and Harith Noah's unfortunate retirements yesterday, Hero Motorsports was the only Indian representation in stage 5. However, it was not a stage to remember as well three riders had issues, with Buhler, Caimi and Branch finishing in P14, P33 and P62 respectively. In the overall standings, the three remaining Hero riders stand at P14 for Franco Caimi, P28 for Sebastian Buhler and P44 for Ross Branch. There is still hope for a top-10 finish however, considering the long way to go yet and with almost all riders facing issues at some point or the other.
Today's results showed how difficult the Dakar still is, and how every single manufacturer is having trouble dealing with the tough Saudi dunes. On January 7, after a day's break, the circus will go from Ha'Il to Al Duwadimi in Stage 6, covering a total distance of 878km.