Stéphane Peterhansel finished third on Stage Five behind 2009 champion Giniel De Villiers to extend his 2021 Dakar Rally car lead over Nasser Al-Attiyah as Russian Andrey Karginov opened up his account with a truck stage win.
The Dakar cavalcade departed on Thursday from Riyadh to Al Quisumah for a 457km timed special stage with massive dunes to cross, stony sections that threatened punctures and tricky navigation.
South African De Villiers dug deep in the car category to claim his first 2021 stage win by 58 seconds from compatriot Brian Baragwanath with Frenchman Peterhansel 2m25s behind in third spot.
With Al-Attiyah fourth and reigning champion Carlos Sainz ninth, it means Peterhansel now lies 6m11s ahead of the Qatari overall with Sainz 48m13s back in third and Poland’s Kuba Przygoński in a creditable fourth.
Three-time champion Al-Attiyah, 50, revealed: “It was not easy to open. We saw a lot of bikes coming and we got confused. At the beginning, we lost eight or nine minutes. I’m happy to have got here. Stéphane did a very good job because he stayed behind me all the way.”
In the truck category, Karginov excelled with just under five-and-a-half hours logged behind the wheel to win the stage with fellow Team Kamaz Master driver Dmitry Sotnikov third on the day.
Russian Sotnikov holds a comfortable 33m53s overall lead over compatriot Anton Shibalov with Airat Mardeev fifth, Chilean Ignacio Casale sixth and Karginov 10th.
In the bike category, Australian Toby Price and Sam Sunderland finished third and fifth on the day for Red Bull KTM Factory Team to move up to fourth and fifth respectively overall behind Argentine Kevin Benavides.
Briton Sunderland explained: “It was a really difficult stage that started off with a lot of tricky navigation. Lots of places were looking the same and there weren’t many references. I did a few circles in the first part and then after the refuel I tried to push to recover some time.”
Former champion Matthias Walkner finished eighth with Štefan Svitko and rookie Daniel Sanders well placed to break into the Top 10, however the last two stages have seen Mohammed Jaffar and CS Santosh withdraw so hopefully a speedy recovery from their injuries.
Chile’s Chaleco Lopez earned another Lightweight vehicle stage win to extend his overall lead to 10m51s over Pole Aron Domzala with teenage rookie Seth Quintero third on the day to go fourth overall.
Quintero’s fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team drivers Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Cristina Gutiérrez brought their OT3s to the finish line, while Dakar debutant Mattias Ekström also got through the stage.
Friday’s Stage Six is from Al Qaisumah to Ha’il with 448km of special stage ahead of Saturday’s rest day.
Overall standings after Stage Five:
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) X-Raid Mini 18h28m02s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Toyota Gazoo +00h06m11s
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP) X-Raid Mini +00h48m13s
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG) Honda 20h15m39s
2. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA) Husqvarna +00h02m31s
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo Honda +00h3m42s
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz Master 20h16m18s
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS) Kamaz Master +00h33m53s
3. Martin Macick (CZE) Iveco +00h51m11s
1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL) Can-Am 22h25m29s
2. Aron Domzala (POL) Can-Am +00h10m51s
3. Austin Jones (USA) Can-Am +00h13m28s