Riders were allowed a little extra sleep this morning with a departure time of 7:15 for a 56-mile liaison. From there they launched into a 300-mile gauntlet of valleys and peaks that featured four check points and two refueling stations. The first portion spanned several mountain tops before dropping to a low point of 3300 ft elevation. Rally leader, Cyril Despres, passed CP1 with a 46-second advantage on Marc Coma with Stage 1 winner, David Casteu in third. The Spaniard, Coma, dropped the hammer in the next brief section and took over the lead pace about 90 seconds in front of Lopez and Despres – though he hadn’t physically passed his French nemesis.
It would be a long ways to the next check but with a full tank of gas, the riders continued to volley their attacks back and forth. At the halfway point of the special, the AMV Red Bull KTM of Coma was still in the lead and by the time they reached CP3 he had amassed six minutes of cushion on Depres – exactly the type of charge needed to get the reigning champ back in the hunt after problems in previous days. It was not to be, however, as Coma was forced to stop at the 234-mile mark with a shredded rear tire. Fortunately for Coma, Italians are lovers, not fighters. Luca Manca stopped and volunteered his own rear wheel even though he was sitting in fourth in the overall standings. Eternally grateful, the Spaniard remounted after losing a whopping 40 minutes in the ordeal, and just like that, a strong outing turned sour leaving Coma 19th and dropping to seventh overall.
They say good deeds come back around and that proved true for the generous Italian who was given a replacement wheel of his own. After having to wait for his own helping of goodwill from Dutchman Henk Knuiman, Manca dropped to ninth having finished 25th on the day.
David Casteu’s Sherco team received heartbreaking news as the front-runner was forced to withdraw due to a leg injury in the midst of his best-ever Dakar performance.
While Coma’s tough luck terrible in its own right, top 450cc competitor, Casteu, had an even worse day as he parted ways with his Sherco and was evacuated to the bivouac for medical attention on an injured leg. The withdrawl allows everyone (except Despres) to move up one position – an unsatisfactory end for a promising upstart team.
Lopez was the hero of the day as he claimed victory in his home country and moved into Casteu’s vacated runner-up position in the overall. But, Despres’ steady pace is wearing competitors down and the Frenchman is almost 38 minutes ahead of the Chilean. It was a positive day for Yamaha as well with David Fretigne landing in third and bumping to 15th overall as he rebounds from problems of his own. Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues is another Steady Eddie and has placed his Yammie in third OA as a result.
Jonah Street continues his steady climb and is now solidly inside the top-10 at sixth. The American finished 12th today but is capitalizing on the mistakes of others who are falling all around his Rally Pan-Am KTM. And speaking of Americans, Volkswagen driver, Mark Miller, took his first Dakar stage victory in the car category with his Race Touareg.
Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHI – Apr) 1st, 2nd OA
“I’m really happy to be home… in Chile. The stage was really fast with Casteu. Marc (Coma)had tire problems and in the end I was able to pass Cyril (Despres). It was a long stage. I had had problems in Argentina and now I am really happy to win a stage on home turf. Now I can think about the overall standings. In Chile all is fine… even gas is better! But again… I won a special stage, that is great but to get up in the standings there is still a lot to do.”
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 19th, 7th OA
“Problems again… Too bad really because it all seemed to go really well in this stage until I ripped the rear tire. I have to thank Luca (Manca) who gave me his wheel. Now it’s Knuiman who will give him his wheel so he does not lose too much time. This year isn’t really my year. I do know what I have done to deserve this. But I have to try and stay positive even with problems like these. But it’s hard. I cannot explain what is happening to me: one day it’s a penalty, the other it’s the engine and then the rear tire issue today. What can I do? I have to try and stay positive and make the most of the rally…”
David Frétigné (FRA – Yam) 3rd, 15th OA
We found David (Casteu) on the ground. He had caught dust in a ravine. Unfortunately Goncalves had had to switch David’s beacon on. His leg was injured. I stayed 4 or 5 minute with him. He was ok. Then the helicopter and the med SUV arrived. After that you can’t go back on the track with the exact same state of mind because when you see that a rider like him can make a small mistake it is a reality check. So you try to focus on the track and on navigation. 480 km is really long. It is very hard to have the exact same focus all along. It only takes two tiny seconds of lack of attention at a bad time and you can hit a rock, dip into a ravine and fall. You have to be careful. As far as I am concerned, I must climb back in the standings slowly but surely. A Dakar is always full of surprises and changes in the standings. That’s what this race is about and the race is still long.
2010 Dakar Rally Stage 5 Results:
Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres might not be winning all the stages, but his pace is relentless and he holds the overall lead.
1. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 05:52:40
2. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 05:54:10 00:01:30
3. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 06:05:53 00:13:13
4. FARIA (PRT) KTM 06:07:49 00:15:09
5. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 06:11:04 00:18:24
6. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 06:14:26 00:21:46
7. GONÇALVES (PRT) BMW 06:17:04 00:24:24
8. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 06:17:24 00:24:44
9. PRZYGONSKI (POL) KTM 06:17:25 00:24:45
10. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 06:19:53 00:27:13
2010 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 16:38:26 00:00:00
2. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 17:16:03 00:37:37
3. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 17:22:27 00:44:01
4. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 17:40:00 01:01:34
5. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 17:46:33 01:08:07
6. STREET (USA) KTM 17:51:12 01:12:46
7. COMA (ESP) KTM 17:55:21 01:16:55
8. GONÇALVES (PRT) BMW 17:58:18 01:19:52
9. MANCA (ITA) KTM 18:05:05 01:26:39
10. PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP) KTM 18:19:51 01:41:25
Check out the Stage 5 Highlight video courtesy of Dakar.com.