In what has been a race of huge highs and lows for Danilo Petrucci, the Italian has proven his offroad credentials in no uncertain terms today, winning stage five of the 2022 Dakar in what is his first ever rally raid competition. Completing yesterday’s stage four as third fastest, Danilo was penalized 10 minutes for speeding, and was relegated to 15th. However, setting off with an advantageous start position into today’s special, and focusing on improving his roadbook skills, the MotoGP race winner was able to steadily move up through the field to ultimately take the win.
Friday’s stage six of the Dakar will see the bike class follow the same route that the cars took today, and as such Danilo will have some tracks already left in the sand ahead of him as he opens his first ever rally stage.
Danilo Petrucci: “Today was quite a long day. I set off this morning and decided I really wanted to learn and improve my navigation, so I didn’t push too hard at the beginning. After one corner there was a large dune with a group of camels on the other side. One big camel came into the track, and I had to avoid it, but ended up crashing after going across a lot of bumps and camel grass. That was my very first crash of this Dakar. After that I eased off a bit and Kevin caught up with me and we rode together towards the finish. After catching a few more riders we came across a waypoint that didn’t validate for everyone – I lost some time there. The last 60 kilometers were all dunes and so I was very careful there to make sure I didn’t hurt my ankle. So, it’s been an interesting and tough day, but I have really enjoyed it.”
Continuing to play catch up after losing a large chunk of time on the event’s opening stage, Toby Price rode a strong stage five, only to be penalized for speeding in a neutralization zone. The resulting six-minute penalty dropped the Aussie down to fifth place. Heading into the final stage before the rest day, Toby lies 14th overall and will be looking to gain even more time back tomorrow.
Toby Price: “Today has been a good stage, starting quite far back definitely makes things a bit easier, but today there was a bit of a dust storm, so everyone had to be on their game and focus on the roadbook. I made a couple of little errors and mistakes, but all-in-all it was a solid stage.”
After a strong start to stage five, Kevin Benavides was immediately in the hunt for the stage win, posting the fastest time to the checkpoint at kilometer 81. The reigning Dakar Champion maintained his top-four placing all the way to the final 60 kilometers, where a tricky-to-register waypoint ended up costing him, and others, some time. Despite the setback, Kevin was able to complete the stage safely in eighth place, and now also lies eighth in the provisional overall standings.
Kevin Benavides: “So day five at the Dakar went really well for me. I felt much better first thing this morning, so I was really motivated to attack. I pushed hard all day right up until the end where one waypoint proved really difficult to validate. I had arrived in a group of riders, and it worked for some, but not for the others. I lost quite a bit of time there trying to find it. After that I pushed as hard as I could over the last section of dunes to recover some time. Hopefully the organizers will look into the problem, and we get some time back.”
Another stage, and another consistently fast performance by Matthias Walkner saw the experienced Austrian claim an 11th place finish. In doing so he cemented his second-place position in the overall standings, closing the gap on the rally leader by another 30 seconds. Ready for tomorrow’s 644-kilometer stage, Walkner will be looking to complete the first week at the 2022 Dakar strongly.
Matthias Walkner: “It was a really nice day for me today. I caught Sam (Sunderland) around kilometer 90 and from there we rode together with me leading most of the way, but both of us were pushing quite hard and keeping up a good pace. There was a strange situation near the end with one waypoint that didn’t validate so easily for me. I think a few people struggled there, so the organizers will have to check the GPS. Overall, I’m happy I didn’t lose too much time and I’m becoming a lot more comfortable on the new bike. My navigation today has been good too on quite a tricky stage, so everything is going to plan.”
Provisional Results Stage Five (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally
1. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 3:23:46
2. Ross Branch (BWA), Yamaha, 3:23:48 +0:02
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHI), Honda, 3:23:51 +0:05
4. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:25:18 +1:32
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:25:32 +1:46
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:28:28 +8:56
11. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:31:18 +11:46
Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 5 of 12 stages
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 19:01:50
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 19:04:19 +2:29
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 19:07:49 +5:59
4. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 19:09:51 +8:01
5. Lorenzo Santolino (ESP), Sherco, 19:17:17 +15:27
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 19:23:41 +21:51
13. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 19:39:09 +37:19