Dakar 2024 Stage 5: Quintanilla fastest rider, Al-Attiyah first stage win with Prodrive

The Chilean was the fastest in the first real sand stage, and we saw a lot of tactics among the drivers.

Photos: Red Bull

As the name suggests, Empty quarter, as the literal translation of the Great Arabian Desert, is not exactly full of the usual architectural or cultural tourist attractions. But for endurance rally fans, it's a stunning treasure trove of dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. Millions of dunes? Maybe billions? Who knows, it's hard to calculate in sand fever.

Riders and crews were prepared to jump out of their sleeping bags in the middle of the night to tackle the 508km road section and dive into this sea of ​​dunes on the decisive 118km special that set the stage for their stay in the Empty Quarter. Paul Quintanilla, who acquired his knowledge in the Chilean Atacama desert, and Nasser Al Attiyah, who acquired his knowledge in neighboring Qatar, got even hotter today and added another notch to his belt.

You didn't have to be a genius to figure out how to properly tackle a special ride among top motorcyclists. The starting order for the GP Rally is reversed for the “48H Chrono” starting tomorrow, so whoever starts the latest will have the biggest advantage among 17 participants, who are still competing for victory in this class. The plan by Adrien Van Beveren seemed correct, as he took fifth place at the 0th kilometer and knew how to surf the dunes, which gave him a realistic chance of winning the stage. It was almost impossible for the Frenchman to lose. Almost.

In the end, he was overtaken by his team mate by just 37 seconds Pablo Quintanilla's Monster Energy Honda. The Chilean scored his eighth Dakar stage victory and won the best starting point for stage 6A. In his twelfth appearance at the Dakar, in which he has won second place twice (2020 and 2022), he will have "Quintafondo", sixth overall at 26′47″, still has all the cards in his hands, but will still need to play it right to Ross Branch pushed out of the hot seat and became the leader of the Honda team, which has three other racers following the Botswanan: Cornel (second at 1′14″), A brat (third at 3′47″) and Van Beveren (fourth at 18′10″).

It was completely different in the car race, where no unusual starting procedures were planned for tomorrow. Instead, drivers will clash with a separate track and they will not be able to take advantage of the tracks left by the bikers. It was among many favorites feel anxious, as everyone was preparing their own tactical recipe, how to fend off the rivals that will appear in their rear view mirror tomorrow morning.

Stephane Peterhansel in Carlos Sainz for example, they are in class Ultimate ended up in sixteenth and seventeenth place with a difference of 14 seconds. Time will tell if this was the right move.Sébastien Loeb deliberately missed an intermediate point, earning him a 15-minute penalty and increasing his gap to the leader Yazeed Al Rajhi in a terrifying 43 minutes. Talk about a risk! The Saudi leading racer didn't try to tempt fate today, neither Nasser Al Attiyah, who turned up his characteristic aggressiveness a bit.

At a distance of 118 km, he overtook by 1′51″ Guerlain Chicherit and claimed his 48th stage win, which was also his first in the Hunter, adding to a diverse list of victories spanning the vehicles BMW, Volkswagen, Hummer, Jefferies Buggy, Mini in Toyota. That's a list of seven different constructors, putting him in a tie with Peterhansl. Al Attiyah finished second overall behind his former teammate Yazeed Al Rajhi is 9 minutes behind, and will start the stage "48H Chrono".

Another good stage is for Toni Mulce, who won 21st place today, is 19th overall, Simon Marčič but today he won the 55th place.

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