Howes into Dakar lead as Sanders slumps to eighth on Stage 5

Skyler Howes leads overall after Dakar Stage 5

Skyler Howes leads overall after Dakar Stage 5. Picture: ASO/DPPI

Skyler Howes is the new overall leader of the Dakar Rally in the Bikes after Adrien Van Beveren won the stage and Daniel Sanders lost well over 20 minutes.

Red Bull GasGas’s Sanders went from top spot at the conclusion of Stage 4 to now sit eighth in the overall classification, 13:18s off the pace being set by the Husqvarna Factory Racing rider.

Only 2:20s covers a top four of Howes, Red Bull KTM’s Kevin Benavides, BAS World KTM’s Mason Klein, and Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price, with Van Beveren’s stage win moving the Monster Energy Honda pilot up to fifth overall.

On a sand- and dune-dominated 373km special around Ha’il, Price set the early pace and, despite starting fourth in the road order, even picked up 19 seconds’ worth of opener bonus just prior to the refuel.

However, those first four on the road, a quartet comprised also of Joan Barreda Bort (Monster Energy JB Honda), Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda), and Howes, got lost about 20km out from said refuel and ceded 10 to 15 minutes each.

That meant Klein was fastest after 210km of the special and Van Beveren second once his opener bonus was accounted for, with Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Monster Energy Honda) also in the battle for stage honours.

The latter was quickest to Kilometre 282 but Van Beveren nosed ahead at Kilometre 326 due to bonus time and that was decisive in him pipping Cornejo by 13 seconds all-told.

Klein drifted but still finished third for the day, 5:13s in arrears, from Red Bull KTM rider Matthias Walkner and Price in a top five covered by 8:41s, with Howes sixth at 10:05s off the pace.

Still, Howes beat Kevin Benavides by one position and 12 seconds in the day, with the gap between them atop the overall classification just 44 seconds.

Sixth overall is Barreda Bort, from Quintanilla and Sanders.

The Australian was only eighth on the start list and while he steadily lost time for the most part, the waypoint splits point to the likelihood of Sanders also straying off-course just before the refuel.

Whether or not fatigue is also a factor in what is his first event since crashing out of Dakar 2022 remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Sanders reveals illness

Classifications could yet change due to time adjustments for those riders who stopped to held Barreda Bort when the Spaniard crashed around 20km from the finish line before pressing on to complete the special.

The field now leaves Ha’il for Al Duwadimi, the longest stage of the rally with 409km of liaison and a 467km special.

CLICK HERE for extended highlights of Stage 5

Overall classification: Bikes Top 10, Updated

Pos Rider Nat Team Time/Gap
1 Skyler HOWES USA Husqvarna Factory Racing 23:16:37
2 Toby PRICE AUS Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0:02:07
3 Kevin BENAVIDES ARG Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0:05:16
4 Mason KLEIN USA BAS World KTM Racing Team +0:06:12
5 Adrien VAN BEVEREN FRA Monster Energy Honda Team +0:08:54
6 Joan BARREDA BORT ESP Monster Energy JB Team +0:09:24
7 Pablo QUINTANILLA CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +0:10:26
8 Daniel SANDERS AUS Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing +0:17:50
9 Jose Ignacio CORNEJO FLORIMO CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +0:22:04
10 Luciano BENAVIDES ARG Husqvarna Factory Racing +0:25:03

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