Stage 5 of the 2019 Dakar Rally has turned out to be one of the toughest yet with multiple crashes in the second leg of the marathon run. In a big disappointment, Hero MotoSports rider CS Santosh had a nasty crash in Stage 5 and has exited from the Dakar Rally. The incident happened between waypoints 4 and 5, and had to be airlifted to the hospital in Tacna. Fortunately, the rider is stable now and will soon be shifted back home. This was Santosh's fifth attempt at Dakar, and probably his best performance yet, having completed all the rallies in the past. The marathon stage claimed more casualties along the way as other Hero riders Oriol Mena and Joaquim Rodrigues reported multiple crashes but survived the day to continue tomorrow.
Oriol Mena continued to be the fastest rider at Hero but survived a few crashes as well. A nasty one saw the rider lose his bearings briefly but he recovered to complete the stage in 16th place and 12th overall. Things were pretty worse for teammate JRod who hurt his shoulder after hitting against a rock but managed to get back up and cross the finish line in 18th place. This significantly moves the rider up in the overall standings in 28th position.
Stage 5 was the second leg of the marathon stage which saw the riders receive no support overnight from the teams. This meant that the riders not only had to complete the 1350 km stage but also ensure that the bikes were in competing conditions overnight. The stage was also particularly challenging owing to fog that resulted in poor visibility conditions, apart from the sand dunes, rock and fesh fesh.
The boys at Sherco TVS Rally Team had a similar day but with thankfully no exits reported. Rookie rider Lorenzo Santolino had an incredible day and finished Stage 5 in third place, his best ever result yet, +4min off the race leader KTM's Sam Sunderland. The incredible day has helped the rider move up to 11th in the general classification and is closer than ever to finish in the top 10 rankings.
Speaking at the end of fantastic day, Lorenzo Santolino said, "I began the race with the objective to stick with the fastest riders and everything began to fall in place on its own. I completed the stage in a very competitive timing and this has given me immense confidence to push myself and my bike to maintain momentum for the rest of the rally. I am thankful to my team for having given me such an excellent bike. I am happy to be able to use the learnings from the team everyday."
Teammate Adrien Metge finished Stage 5 in 24th place and is currently 16th in overall standings. Adrien could've had a better run had it not been for a crash on the last waypoint that cost him time. Michael Metge finished 29th at the of the finish line and sits 24th in the general classification. Michael too had a difficult time tackling dust and fesh fesh. The only Indian rider left, Aravind KP has managed a steady run till now and completed the stage despite a minor crash. The rider completed the day in 53rd place and jumped 10 standings finishing 54th overall.
Speaking about his performance, Aravind KP said, "I am delighted to reach the halfway mark of Dakar 2019, but I need to keep the momentum going as there is a long way to go to the finish line. This stage was the toughest but having cleared it, i feel more confident to take on the second half of Dakar 2019 and make my team proud."
Tomorrow will be a rest day for the teams and the riders at Dakar 2019 before Stage 6 that starts on January 13. The sixth stage of the rally will see the riders travel from Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona.