Sam Sunderland has taken the lead of the Dakar Rally bikes contest after several of his rivals got lost during Friday’s fifth stage of the South American event. The first stage of the rally to be run entirely on Bolivian soil, Friday’s Tupiza-Oruro test was originally supposed to be 447km, but was eventually halted after 219km due to poor weather.After losing the lead of the rally with a one-hour penalty for a refuelling infringement, Honda’s Joan Barreda appeared well placed to recover some ground in the early part of the stage, before the Spaniard took a wrong turning after the second waypoint.
Barreda’s error prompted a number of other leading contenders to follow him, including new leader Pablo Quintanilla and third-placed man Stefan Svitko, both of whom also lost ground as a result.
One rider who avoided this trap was Thursday’s stage winner Matthias Walkner, who opened the road ahead of Barreda – only to later deviate from the course himself.
This opened the way for Walkner’s KTM teammate Sunderland to win the stage – the third of the British rider’s Dakar career – by 7m19s from Yamaha rider Adrian van Beveren.
Sunderland now leads overall by 11m50s from Quintanilla (Husqvarna), who limited the damage to finish seventh on the day, with van Beveren profiting from his rivals’ misfortune to jump up from seventh to third.
Walkner meanwhile has slipped from second to fifth behind Gerard Farres (KTM), losing a total of 40 minutes, with Svitko dropping down to seventh from third behind Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha).
Barreda, ninth after his penalty was applied, lost a total of 42 minutes to Sunderland, and is now down to 12th overall, 1h17m off the lead.
Bikes standings after Stage 5:
|3||Adrian van Beveren||Yamaha||+15m57s|
|6||Xavier de Soultrait||Yamaha||+39m18s|