From KTM – Coma said it had been another difficult day: “I opened ninety percent of the stage today. Everything was running well but it was soft sand and very technical and when you’re on the camel grass it is tough. At the end of the last part it was very difficult to find the finish line. I got to another river and had to cut back to find the correct one. But in the end it was good.”
Coma, who moved into second behind the leader Barreda on Wednesday by just three minutes has now taken control of the overall lead after winning the stage more than 12 minutes in front of Viladoms. He leads the overall standings by 41 minutes 10 from Barreda.
Cyril Despres – “It was very hot in the special and the sand was soft. Because of that I was paying particular attention to engine temperature and even more so when I noticed I was consuming fuel at an alarming rate. I was on my way to get the famous WP17 but had to turn back when I realised I wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end. I was right on the limit of running out when I came across a quad rider who kindly gave me a litre and a half. In all, my various problems cost me 44 minutes, to which will be added the one hour penalty…”
Paulo Goncalves:“After having lost my chances to fight for a top position following the problems during the marathon stage, I tried my best today to support Joan Barreda. I had a good pace, leading the race halfway through the stage. In the boiling temperatures I suddenly felt my feet getting hot, and I saw that my bike was burning. I jumped off and tried to extinguish the fire with sand, but I could not fight it, the bike burnt down completely. I am extremely disappointed, after all the hard work during the year to be out of the race in this way.”
Rian Van Niekerk – This would go down to be Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk’s best rally stage ever. Starting in 72ndposition, everything would go “right” for Riaan as he found the way where everyone else failed finishing in an incredible 5th on the stage bringing him back down to 17th overall. It was almost not to be though, as when Riaan was navigating through the camel grass he crashed into Paulo Gonzalves’ burning Honda and nearly set himself alight. As he tried to pick the bike up, Riaan’s handguard hooked onto one of the cables from Paulo’s bike, the flames were licking Riaan’s rear tanks and it would have been a few seconds more and it would have been all over. Farres’ Gas Gas also went up in smoke today, the temperatures were simply too high. Grass collects in the bash plate and by the time you realize what’s going on, it’s too late.
Joan Barreda:“At the beginning of the stage I lost some minutes due to problems with the fuel system, but I could catch up pretty good and found a decent speed and rhythm in the endless sand whoops. At the end of the stage it was very difficult to find the right way through various dry riverbeds, but I could manage quite well. Unfortunately a few km before the finish I had another a problem with the fuel system, and it took me valuable time to fix it and continue towards the finish. I am happy to be back at the bivouac after this tough day. At least I am still second in the overall classification. We are still in a very good position in the race and we will do everything the next days to assure a top result.”
Helder Rodrigues – Another day at a really long and really tough Dakar. It’s the fifth day of the hardest Dakar yet. Even though it’s only the fifth day, it’s been really difficult. The Dakar is so long and you have to keep up the concentration and be really strong to make it through the day and get a result
Laia Sanz –Hi from Tucuman! Today has been a good and bad day. My bike almost burn by the vegetation and after that I’ve missed a way point and the organization has penalized me with 1 hour. It’s a pity because I was 16th overall and now I’ve lost a few positions. I’m angry with myself but I have to be happy too for finishing these hard stages. Today we ride through hell!!