The compact sand of the fifth stage has caused a lot of problems today in the Dakar Rally 2023. The toughest endurance test that motor sport can offer is living up to its reputation in this fourth edition organized by Saudi Arabia. Even those who top the time charts know that problems can strike at any moment.
The fifth stage could not have had a better result for Nasser Al-Attiyah and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel in their Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+. However, the stage win to increase his lead in the car standings was not achieved without some headaches. The four-time Dakar winner knows that going to the limit is not a sustainable tactic for a 14-stage rally.
“It has been a very hard stage, not easy at all. We have tried to go to the top and we have risked a lot. Now we are tired after pushing so much on the stage”, confessed Al-Attiyah at the end of the day.
The reason the Qatari felt he had to push so hard was the announcement last night by the race organizers that they will allow the Audi Sport team to increase the maximum power output of their Audi RS Q e-tron E2 cars. Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz took advantage of this advantage to set the second and third fastest times respectively.
“It has been one of the hardest stages of my life, but I don’t really know why! Our backs and necks are sore,” said Peterhansel, the rally’s most successful driver.
Illnesses and collisions have altered the classification in the motorcycle race. Race leader Daniel Sanders was forced to solo on stage five after he woke up feeling unwell. “It’s frustrating to see you lose so much time, but I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to run today when I woke up this morning,” lamented the Australian.
As Sanders dropped down the standings, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Toby Price and Kevin Benavides moved up the ranks. Price is now second, just two minutes behind new race leader Skyler Howes. For his part, Benavides is third overall after a dramatic fifth stage.
The Saudi coast-to-coast odyssey continues tomorrow in stage six. The 467km timed special will take place over a usual mix of terrain, including a barrage of dunes for the last third of the day’s ride.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF THE 2023 DAKAR RALLY?
- Stage 1 SEA CAMP > SEA CAMP 602.56 km total | 367 km special – January 1
- Stage 2 SEA CAMP > ALULA 589.07 km total | 430 km special – January 02
- Stage 3 ALULA > HA’IL 669.15 km total | 447 km special – January 03
- Stage 4 HA’IL > HA’IL 574.01 km total | 425 km special – January 04
- Stage 5 HA’IL > HA’IL 645.04 km total | 373 km special – January 5
- Stage 6 HA’IL > AL DUWADIMI 876.24 km total | 465 km special – January 06
- Stage 7 AL DUWADIMI > AL DUWADIMI 641.46 km total | 472 km special – January 07
- Stage 8 AL DUWADIMI > RIYADH 713.85 km total | 398 km special – January 08
- Rest – January 9
- Stage 9 RIYADH > HARADH 686 km total | 358 km special – January 10
- Stage 10 HARADH > SHEYBAH 623.94 km total | 113 km special – January 11
- Stage 11 SHAYBAH > EMPTY QUARTER MARATHON 428.27 km total | 275 km special – January 12
- Stage 12 EMPTY QUARTER MARATHON > SHAYBAH 376.46 km total | 185 km special – January 13
- Stage 13 SHAYBAH > AL-HOFUF 675.6 km total | 154 km special – January 14
- Stage 14 AL-HOFUF – DAMMAM 417.3 km total | 136 km special – January 15
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.