Rallye

Stage five victory to Despres to consolidate overall lead

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KTM's two lead riders Cyril Despres and Marc Coma continued on their quest to dominate the Dakar 2012 on Thursday in a close-knit battle that saw Despres take the stage victory and consolidate his overall lead one day before the rally enters Chile.

Overnight rain before the start of stage five gave the organisers extra work. Some areas in the second part of the special test were flooded and made the course dangerous. The special had to be shortened to 186 kilometres.

With five stages completed, four have gone to KTM, two to Despres and two to Coma who are both bidding for their fourth Dakar title. It was also Cyril's 28th Dakar stage victory in his career.

It was 'welcome to the white sand dunes of FiambalÌÁ' for the riders after the liaison stretch of 151 km that started the day. The FiambalÌÁ dunes have a fierce reputation for ruining chances of advancement in the world's toughest rally and demand absolute concentration on the road book to ensure no costly navigational errors.

Coma opened the road as Stage Four winner but it was Despres who had the edge at the day's first Way Point where he had already moved ahead by 58 seconds. Astonishingly the gap between the two KTM factory riders was identical as they passed Way Point Two and they had already begun to distance themselves from the rest of the field. Both riders, the world's best contemporary rally raid exponents gave no ground as they attacked the stage. At the end of the 265 km timed special they were still only separated by one minute 41 seconds and Despres was almost 13 minutes ahead of the third rider to cross the finish line.
Cyril Despres takes Stage 5 and surges ahead in the overalls
As the race continues to shape up as a battle between these two KTM factory riders, they have already managed to distance themselves from the rest of the field in the overall standings. Despres is now 47 minutes ahead of third placed Helder Rodrigues of Portugal. Overall, it was a good stage for the Austrian brand with seven KTM riders in the top 10 finishers.

"After the first day, you could have said that lots of other riders were going to be involved in the fight, but in the end, there aren't too many! The gaps aren't very big at the moment and we're playing with gaps of two minutes," Despres said.

"Today was easier for me, because I set off behind Coma. Perhaps tomorrow, it will be the opposite. I've got a lead over him and it's a fairly comfortable cushion. Mind you, it can disappear quickly, so I need to keep the same state of mind and the same amount of concentration."

Marc Coma said, "It was another hard and complicated stage: the mythical Fiambala stage. The special was a bit shorter than planned. In physical terms, that's good, but for me, the more distance there is, the more difficulties there are, the more likely something may happen and the more opportunities might come my way. I made a small mistake and I'm paying for it. But I'm still here and still aiming to win. With the Atacama, it's a new race that begins. We'll see what happens."

Team by Speedbrain Husqvarna rider Joan Barreda was one of many riders who has struggled with the navigation. The young Spaniard rode error-free almost all day on stage 5. He only had some trouble at a checkpoint after taking the wrong turn. Barreda had to lift his bike over a fence with difficulty. He still took his second podium of the rally. remains

In the overall standings Helder Rodrigues remains in third ahead of Day 1 winner Chaleco Lopez.

"It's a difficult Dakar," Rodrigues mused. "I'm feeling a bit tired, but everybody is in the same situation. I've had a lot of little problems with the bike and things aren't going as well as I would have liked. But I'm still here and I've not suffered. I'm third in the general standings. I'm on top form and I can go on the attack when I want, and that's what I'm going to do, because now another part of the Dakar begins. I want to go head to head with the leading two."

Stage Five Results
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 2 hours 28 minutes 33 seconds
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 1 minute 41
3, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 12:42
4, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM at 13:55
5, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 14:17

Overall Results after Stage Five
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 14 hours 19 minutes
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 9 minutes 51 seconds
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 47:56 4, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, at 49:00
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna, 54:47 (6 minutes penalty)

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