Nasser Al Attiyah and Mattieu Baumel powered their Gazoo Toyota Hilux to a crushing Dakar Day 5 victory on Thursday, as they consolidated their overall lead in the race. Honda duo Adrien van Beveren and Jose Cornejo came from behind to take a bike 1-2 in a test of navigation through the soft Arabian Desert sand and camel grass of a second loop around Ha’il.
South Africans Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings’ Gazoo Hilux led Dakar legends Stéphane Peterhansel’s petrol-electric Audi, Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz’ Audi and Sebastien Loeb’s Prodrive Hunter with Mattias Ekstrom’s Audi in pursuit. SA crews Brian Baragwanath and Leonard Cremer’s Century CR6-T and Giniel De Villiers and Dennis Murphy’s Gazoo Hilux ran ninth and tenth.
DAY 5 CARS: AL ATTIYAH IN CONTROL
There was drama when Laia Sanz and Maurizio Gerini’s Century rolled heavily. The crew emerged unscathed, but their Dakar is over. Up front, Peterhansel soon made use of Audi’s Wednesday power reprieve to move ahead of Attiyah, Sainz and Loeb as Lategan lost a little time. In a battle of the giants up front, Loeb then surged ahead, before Attiyah went back at him at two-thirds distance.
Attiyah then controlled the race from the front with the four behind swapping places regularly. Luckless Loeb however hit trouble again and lost 15 minutes to let Sainz and Peterhansel off the hook to finish second and third from home hero Yazeed Al Rajhi’s Toyota, Guerlain Chicherit and Alex Winocq in a Prodrive Hunter, and Lategan. De Villiers ended 8th.
ALL FOUR RED-LINED BAKKIES RUNNING AFTER DAY 5
Baragwanath ran into trouble when they fell into a hole and had to wait for assistance late in the stage to drop to 20th, as Century teammates Mathieu Serradori and Loic Minaudier Century came home 11th. South Africans, Ryan Bland was navigating German Daniel Schröder’s PS Laser Red-Lined Nissan in 34th and Gerhard Schutte guiding Thomas Bell in 48th at the time of writing. All four SA-built Red-Lined bakkies were still running strong.
Overall, Al Attiyah opened his car lead up to 22 minutes after Day 5, now over Peterhansel, who passed Al Rajhi for second. Sainz is third from Lategan, Toyota rookie Luca Moraes and de Villiers. Serradori is back up to 12th, but Baragwanath slipped to 20th.
BIKES: HONDAS COME FROM BEHIND
Wednesday’s top three bikes struggled to open the road as Jose Cornejo’s Honda led KTM trio Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Mason Klein early on. Price moved ahead to lead Husqvarna man Skyler Howes and Klein. Botswana’s Ross Branch sat 11th ahead of overall leader Daniel Sanders (GasGas). SA rookie Michael Docherty sat 22nd and Original man Charan Moore 33rd.
Price then lost time as fifth and sixth at mid distance, Honda pair Cornejo and Adrien van Beveren moved into the picture. They were second and third early in the afternoon, before powering ahead later on. Van Beveren went on to take the day from Cornejo, KTM trio Klein, Walkner and Price, Howes and Lorenzo Santolini’s Sherco.
DOCHERTY, MOORE KEEP ON IMPRESSING
Docherty ended 28th to retain his rookie second overall. Moore in 33rd closed to within 11 seconds of no service Malle Moto leader Javi Vega after five days and 2,000km of racing. Ross Branch’s woeful Dakar continued as he lost another hour. SA’s Malle Moto riders Stuart Gregory was still riding in 80th position and Iron Lady Kirsten Landman 83rd, while Stevan Wilken sat 95th.
Alexandre Giroud dominated the quads with another stage win on Thursday over Moreno Flores and Laisvydas Kancius. Also still racing, Janus van Kasteren’s Iveco led overall leader Ales Loprais’ Praga in the trucks. Martin Macik’s Iveco took Wednesday’s win. Carlos Battista led the T4 sides by sides on Thursday, which Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira led overall from Wednesday winner Eryk Goczal.
Seth Quinteiro led the T3 prototypes, with SA crews Eben Basson and Abertus Pienaar running sixth, and Geoff Minnitt and Gerhard Snyman’s HBE Can Am ninth. Overall leader Mitch Guthrie won Wednesday’s stage from rookie João Ferreira’s Yamaha, with Basson sixth, and Minnitt ninth to see Basson 10th overall and Minnitt 19th.
Friday’s stage 6 will be fast at the start, with dunes to follow. It will be the second longest Dakar 2023 stage at 467km, as crew make their way across the breadth of Saudi Arabia to Duwadimi.
Words: Motorsport Media