Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres turned back the advances of his fellow factory KTM rider Marc Coma, the Frenchman winning stage five by one minute and 41 seconds over his rival to increase his lead in the overall standings to nine minutes and 51 seconds.
Coma, who lost valuable time because of a navigational snafu in stage three, climbed back into the battle with his teammate yesterday, but the three-time Dakar Rally winner Despres stepped up his game today to stay at the top on the run from Chilecito to Fiambala that featured 164 miles. The stage win was Despres’ second in this year’s rally.
Third place in today’s stage went to Husqvarna Ralle Team By Speedbrain’s Joan Barreda Bort, the Spaniard matching his effort from the second stage before he ran into problems in the third and fourth stages. For his efforts, Barreda Bort gained 14 spots in the overall standings. He is now 31st.
Oraving Slovnaft KTM’s Stefan Svitko had his best-ever stage finish, the 29-year-old Slovakian finishing fourth today. He is now 10th overall.
Third place overall is held by Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues after his 14th place finish in today’s stage. Rodrigues, how had some issues with navigation today, is 47 minutes and 56 seconds behind Despres as the Dakar Rally is again a two-man race between Despres and Coma.
Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez is fourth overall, the Chilean rider finishing ninth in today’s stage. Lopez is just a bit over a minute behind Rodrigues in their battle fo the final podium position.
Another five minutes behind in the overall standings is fifth-placed Paulo Goncalves. The Portuguese rider finished 10th in today’s fifth stage.