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