Here are the quick results for the day. Check back for photos and team reports later
Stage 5 Results
Overall Results after Stage 5
From Speedbrain Husky – Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain notched up another victory today in the fifth and penultimate stage of the Morocco Rally. This time it was Spaniard Joan Barreda on the Husqvarna TE449RR by Speedbrain taking the honours after the success of team-mate Paulo Goncalves on day three. Barreda came in over a minute ahead of Rodrigues and cut leader Cyril Despres’ overall advantage down by 12’30”. Barreda holds on to second overall place but is now just 5’33” behind the leader. Goncalves did well too with a fourth place and Fish finished nine. Tomorrow sees the final stage Zagora-Zagorà with 177 km (110 miles) of special test.
Joan Barreda: “I’m very pleased with the win. Just what was needed! Today I started from tenth place and I managed to make up a lot of ground on Despres in spite of there still being such a lot of navigation and dust. I kept my concentration and the bike always responded to me. This really is an important race for my team ahead of the Dakar and we’re really satisfied with the way things have been going. Tomorrow is the final day and I’ll give it 100% as always.”
Paulo Goncalves: “There was a lot of sand today too, but above all so much dust. I started from 22nd position and had to eat a lot of dirt and it wasn’t easy to finish this stage in fourth place. I’m satisfied with the race and the way that the team is working. ”
Matt Fish: “I had a lot of fun today. I got the job done well, that consisted of assisting Barreda in case he needed it. We rode together for practically the whole stage and didn’t take too many risks.”
From KTM – After a mixed day in the desert, KTM factory rider Cyril Despres managed to hang on to the overall lead in the Morocco Rally on Friday’s penultimate stage but his overall advantage was trimmed down to 5 minutes 33 seconds.
Despres, who was second out on the track on a day and eventually finished the stage in ninth position, 12 minutes behind stage winner Joan Barreda of Spain. Despres’ teammate Joan Pedrero of Spain was the fastest KTM rider of the stage, finishing fourth and trailing the lead by seven and a half minutes.
Speaking after the stage Cyril said it had been ‘not a bad day but also not perfect’. “The first kilometers were not on the road book and I wasn’t sure I had the right bearing so I decided to turn back to check that I was right,” he commented. “After that it was not easy because there were many tracks from the other riders and other vehicles. I had two options, to follow the tracks or to make my own and I decided to make my own and when you do it like this, it can cost time. The last part was very fast and I was trying to push as much as I could. Tomorrow is a shorter stage and I will of course do everything I can to take the victory.”
With the early rally leader Helder Rodrigues well down the leader board after technical problems on Thursday and following the retirement of Cyril’s KTM teammate Marc Coma with a dislocated shoulder earlier in the week the race has now crystallized down to a two-way battle. Despres and Barreda are vying for victory and third placed Chaleco Lopez of Chile on the KTM is in the running for eventual third place. Lopez will have to watch out for attacks from Frans Verhoeven of Netherlands and Britain’s Sam Sunderland who are, time wise, close by. Only eight minutes separate places 3-5.
Riders will also have little opportunity to recover from mistakes in the final Stage Six, which is only 171 km of timed stretch and 206 km overall. Organizers say it is short but technically tricky and will take the field back into the small dunes. This means that given the battle between Despres and Barreda, there is still everything to play for.