Dakar stage 5 is all about strategy

11/01/2024

Today was a short stage, with a lot of navigation and dunes, but the strategy was the highlight of this fifth stage that took the riders to the town of Shubaytah. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz finished the day in 28th position, nine minutes behind the winner of day 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (Hunter).

The stage that starts tomorrow may be decisive, a two-day stage without assistance or camping between the two days, with a lot of navigation so getting out in front can be complicated to open the race, the Spanish drivers of the Audi RS Q e-tron will start from behind waiting to attack and return to the head of the race where after today they are third just eleven and a half minutes behind leader Yazeed Al Rajhi (Toyota).

Tomorrow’s stage
Stage 5: SHUBAYTAH > SHUBAYTAH Link > 209 km – Special > 626 km
Nothing like it has ever been seen and they are already trembling at this unique challenge. The stage takes place over two days, but the typical parameters of a marathon stage disappear with the unprecedented format of the 48-hour time trial. Let’s imagine a huge gong booming at dusk in the Empty Quarter sky, commanding all drivers to stop their vehicles dead in their tracks and not start up again until dawn the next day, after a night under the stars. That is the spirit of this new stage. In practice, the cut-off time is 4 pm. At that point, everyone will be asked to stop at the next rest area (there are 6) located on the route of the special. At that point, the pilots will receive a minimum camping equipment and enough food to spend the night in the desert, without connection and, therefore, without information on the results of their rivals. Isolated from the world.

The elite bikers fighting for the title have never ridden eight hours on a special stage… until now. The setting for this premiere will be the Empty Quarter and its endless dunes. Although they have already entered this area, the route of this mega-special is really tough. The chotts (salt lakes), where you can take a break, await you between the dune ridges. But the navigation will require the utmost care, with hard-to-find courses and hidden WPs that will make many angry: “I’m not going to make many friends,” says David Castera. In fact, their former comrades in the car category will face the same difficulties as the two-wheeled riders. In addition, as the FIA and FIM courses are independent, there will be no motorcycle skid marks to guide the co-drivers.