Nani Roma wins fifth stage and takes Dakar lead
TUCUMAN, Argentina (AP) — Nani Roma of Spain avoided the mishaps suffered by his rivals to win the fifth stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday and regain the overall lead.
The mainly sandy stage from Chilecito to Tucuman was supposed to be 400 kilometers, but was shortened by 100 kilometers because of extreme heat. Organizers prevented motorbikes and quads from racing the second half of the stage out of fear for their safety.
After 4 ½ hours, Roma won his second stage of the week 4 minutes, 20 seconds ahead of Giniel De Villiers of South Africa, and 20:12 in front of third-placed Robby Gordon of the United States.
Overnight leader Carlos Sainz suffered an electrical problem after 160 kilometers and lost an hour and 15 minutes to Roma. Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar got stuck and fell more than 26 minutes behind Roma in the overall in second place, and Orlando Terranova of Argentina was third, nearly 32 minutes down.
Defending champion Stephane Peterhansel of France took a wrong turn in the first half and dropped more than 20 minutes to be 40 minutes off the pace.
Three-time champ Marc Coma of Spain, biding his time so far, burst to life on the most difficult stage yet to win the motorbike race and take a big overall lead.
Coma was 13 minutes quicker than countryman Jordi Viladom and 23 in front of Kuba Przygonski of Poland. All three are riding KTMs.
Meanwhile, Coma’s chief rival, five-time and defending champ Cyril Despres of France, endured an overheated engine and navigation errors to lose 45 minutes, and Paulo Goncalves of Portugal had to drop out after his bike caught on fire, his earliest exit in his eighth Dakar.
Overall, Coma was 41 minutes ahead of Joan Barreda Bort of Spain, and 54 in front of Francisco Lopez of Chile. Despres was 2 hours, 23 minutes behind.
The sixth stage on Friday is from Tucuman to Salta. Saturday is a rest day.