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2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead

Author: Garry Morrow

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2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Stage winner Sam Sunderland (14) and Team-mate Toby Price (3) take a high speed cruise down a Peruvian beach. Photo: Marcin Kin
Brit Sam Sunderland has won a hard-fought stage five of the 2019 Dakar Rally ahead of Yamaha's Xavier de Soultrait and Spaniard Lorenzo Santolino, Monster Enrgy Honda's Ricky Brabec retained the overall lead of the Rally with 11th on stage.

After stopping to assist the injured Paulo Goncalves during the day‰Ûªs special stage, Sunderland was then credited with the time he‰Ûªd lost, ultimately winning the stage by over three minutes.

The second half of the two-day marathon stage started with a motocross-style mass start on the beach. Riders set off in groups of 10 according to their finishing positions from the previous day‰Ûªs stage four, each group split by five minutes. From the beach, competitors headed into the Ilo dunes for the remainder of the 345-kilometre timed special. With a number of riders racing together on the stage, split times were close to every waypoint.


Starting in the first group, Sam Sunderland got off to a solid start, opting not to push straight away and risk a mistake or incident with a fellow competitor. Coming across a fallen rider, Sunderland stopped and assisted until the medical team arrived, setting off again after 10 minutes. Pushing hard to make up time the sand specialist demonstrated the skill he is known for, almost catching the front group before the finish. With the time lost awarded back to him, the Brit had done enough to win the stage and move up to second in the provisional overall standings.

‰ÛÏObviously the first thing is to wish Goncalves the best after his accident ‰ÛÒ it‰Ûªs always scary when you see that happen in front of you," Sunderland said. "I stayed with him for over 10 minutes but it‰Ûªs difficult to gauge how long you‰Ûªre actually stopped for.

"A lot of riders passed us and so when I got going again, I just pushed as hard as I could," Sunderland continued. "It‰Ûªs so difficult when you are behind like that, to know if you are gaining on the guys in front or losing ground. I saw the group just before the finish so I knew I had made up some time. I‰Ûªm lying second now and it‰Ûªs been a good first half to the race, but I know if the next five days are going to be anything like these we‰Ûªve just had, it‰Ûªs going to end up as a seriously tough rally.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Yamalube Yamaha Rally team rider Xavier de Soultrait was initially awarded the win but had top settle for second when Sam Sunderland was awarded his time back for helping the injured Paulo Goncalves.
Yamalube Yamaha Rally team rider Xavier de Soultrait set off among the second wave of riders at the beginning of the timed special.

Taking his time to get to grips with the stony terrain, the WR450F Rally powered rider launched a fierce attack for the stage victory in the final part of the timed special. Eventually earning the runner-up position, de Soultrait was just three minutes behind the eventual stage winner Sam Sunderland. Continuing his strong performance in Peru, Xavier has moved up to eighth in the provisional overall standings.

"It was another good stage for me and I'm really happy with my second place," de Soultrait said. "I started the special at a steady pace to preserve my tyres. The pace was fast and there were some dangerous spots in the special. As we were getting closer to the end of the special, I was feeling great on my bike so I decided to push hard for a good time. I made my attack and when I got to the finish I was told I had won the stage. Later on we learned that Sam Sunderland was given back the time he lost to assist an injured rider, so he ended up winning the stage with me a close second. I'm wrapping up this first week of the rally on a high. I'm really happy with the way things have worked out for me so far and I'm looking forward to the second week that starts on Sunday."
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Despite a small crash Spaniard Lorenzo Santolino impressed with the privateer coming home in third, only 4 minutes down on Sunderland.
Despite a small crash Spaniard Lorenzo Santolino impressed with the privateer coming home in third, only 4 minutes down on Sunderland.

"I tried to be with the front group from the start, I have confidence in my navigation, my riding and my bike. The important thing now is to continue to race and continue to improve!" Santolino said.
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Yamaha's Adrien Van Beveren remains strong and in contention with 4th overall on stage five. Photo: Yamaha Racing.
Getting more and more comfortable on his Yamaha, Adrien Van Beveren was able to control his pace during the final part of the stage to cross the finish line in fourth position. Currently fifth in the overall standings, Adrien sits in a great position ahead of the remainder of the Dakar adventure in Peru.

"This Dakar is proving to be quite challenging," Van Beveren expressed. "Coming to Peru we thought it would just be racing in the dunes, but it turns out there's a lot more than just sandy dunes. Today we went through some parts with fesh-fesh and lots of stones. Despite not being my favourite terrain, today I got a great feeling on the bike and was able to push.

"I took my time and once I felt confident in this terrain I was able to ride the way I know. This Dakar is not just about raw speed. There's lots of parts where you need to be patient and think about the overall classification. I felt I could have possibly won the stage today, but I wanted to make sure I had a good starting position for Sunday so I slowed down a bit towards the end. This race is really intense. There's 10 to 15 racers who are able to win stages and you need to be on top of your game each day. I'm in a good position now for the next stage and I'm looking forward to it."
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Former AMA Motocross and Supercross star Andrew Short had his best ever Dakar stage finish with fifth. Photo: Marcin Kin
Remaining fast from start to finish, Andrew Short claimed his best individual stage result of this Dakar. Finishing fifth on stage five, he bettered his strong sixth place result from stage 10 of the 2018 Dakar. His top five result on Friday allows Andrew to move back inside the top 10 of the overall standings.

‰ÛÏI had a better day today. It was really fun to ride with Pablo pretty much all day," Short enthused. "The mass start was huge fun, especially for a guy like me coming from motocross. From the beach we went to the big dunes. It was really steep and we were going up and down all the time. That part was really fun to ride. Overall, it was a good day for me and Pablo and hopefully as we continue we can keep getting better. When I have someone like Pablo who I can trust, it‰Ûªs a lot easier for me to ride fast. The more I ride with the top guys the better I can get. I am getting more experience and I hope I can keep improving during the second week of racing.‰Û
Luciano Benavides was another who enjoyed his best ride of the Dakar Rally to date with sixth on stage. Photo: Marcin Kin
Enjoying his best ride of the Dakar Rally to date, Luciano Benavides ended the day in an impressive sixth place, earning himself an excellent start position for Sunday‰Ûªs stage. The Argentinian continues to gain important knowledge and experience and is keen to improve his overall position even further during the second half of the event.

‰ÛÏToday was a really good day for me, my pace and rhythm were a lot better and I felt very comfortable for the whole stage," Benavides enthused. "I am pleased with my result, and it is great for my confidence going into the rest day and the second half of the rally. Physically and mentally I feel fine, I was able to focus a lot better today and I think it showed in my pace. It‰Ûªs great when everything comes together like that.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Aussie Toby Price again put in an extremely brave performance to place eighth on the tough stage five. Photo: Marcin Kin
Toby Price again put in an extremely brave performance to place eighth on the tough stage five. Despite aggravating the injury to his wrist, the 2016 Dakar Champion was able to maintain a solid pace throughout the timed special and goes into the rest day in a very creditable fourth place overall.

‰ÛÏIt was a really, really tough day for me today," Price lamented. "Starting in groups of 10 on the beach means that you not only have to fight for position with other riders, you have to keep an eye on your navigation while dodging the rocks and dust thrown up by the guys in front. My pace today was good but I cased out on one drop and that put a lot of strain through my wrist again. I was able to continue, but I am really thankful for the rest day now. I am happy to have reached the halfway stage of the rally so hopefully after a day off I will be ready to go again on Sunday.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Stage five was a day for the privateers with American Skyler Howes coming in with his first ever top ten with ninth. Photo: DPPI
It was a day for the privateer with American Skyler Howes coming home in ninth place in another impressive ride by a rider who does not have the support of the big factory backed teams.

It was another strong stage for defending Dakar Champion Matthias Walkner. After clearing the group that had formed following the morning‰Ûªs mass-start, the Austrian was able to increase his pace and put in an excellent performance on the latter half of the special. Walkner was the first to cross the line, posting the third fastest time just over three minutes down on teammate Sunderland. Unfortunately, a three-minute speed penalty then dropped Matthias to an eventual 10th.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs always fun to set off motocross-style on the beach like that, but I didn‰Ûªt get the best start and then as we hit the Fesh-Fesh I found myself in clouds of dust and wasn‰Ûªt able to do anything about it," Walkner explained. "It carried on like that for around 200 kilometres and it was really frustrating. Things improved towards the end of the stage where I was able to get in front and open the piste. I pushed hard then and made up some good time and was actually the first to finish."

After injuring his ankle in the previous stage the Austrian was a bit tentative but had no major problems.

"My ankle is still sore but I don‰Ûªt think it is affecting my pace, especially when the adrenalin is flowing," Walkner added, "I just need to be careful that I don‰Ûªt put my foot down and twist it more when I‰Ûªm riding. Now I am looking forward to the rest day tomorrow.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead
Monster Energy Honda's Ricky Brabec retained the general classification lead heading into the rest day.
Monster Energy Honda's Ricky Brabec came in 11th, just ahead of team-mate Kevin Benavides to maintain his lead in the general classification.

‰ÛÏI don‰Ûªt know if it‰Ûªs a dream or if it‰Ûªs reality. It‰Ûªs pretty wild. I would like to have a big margin on the overall, but it‰Ûªs only one minute right now. So, I‰Ûªve just got to manage that for the next few days and just make it to the motocross start on the ninth day," Brabec said.

Overall contender Pablo Quintanilla made good use of his experience on stage 5. Claiming a 13th place result, still leaves him third in the provisional overall. With the stage having a lot closer times the Chilean rally star only dropped 4 minutes despite the lower finishing postion.

‰ÛÏFive days done and I‰Ûªm in a great position in this rally," Quintanilla said. "The first part of the stage was a lot of fun. I took the lead after the mass start, but then decided to stay off the gas a bit. My eyes are focused on the overall classification and I‰Ûªm in a good spot to attack during the second week. Today I felt great on my bike. I was able to get a good pace and do my own race. The Dakar is always a long event and you need to always see the overall picture. I‰Ûªm happy with my performance today because I‰Ûªve managed to put myself in a great position for Sunday‰Ûªs stage six. I am feeling great physically and I‰Ûªm looking forward to the second week. It‰Ûªs important to get back as much time as possible on Sunday so that I can then control my pace for the rest of the race.‰Û
2019 Dakar Stage 5: Sam Sunderland Takes Stage Win, Ricky Brabec Retains Overall Lead

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