Overnight rain before the start of stage five gave the organizers extra work. Some areas in the second part of the special test were flooded and made the course dangerous. The special test had to be shortened to 116 miles from the original 165 planned. Not all went perfectly for the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain but altogether the German-Italian squad had a decent day, with Paulo Goncalves improving to fifth in the standings and Joan Barreda earning the team’s third podium.
The stage itself was tricky, as Goncalves found out at the beginning of the special test. The Portuguese rider crashed at a section where a new road is being built. The course was not well marked with deep ditches. Goncalves crashed into one of them and was lucky not to have injured himself or his bike. Fellow competitor Frans Verhoeven was less lucky and damaged his machine. The following riders were able to take advantage because they now were warned. Paulo Goncalves said, “I was lucky not to get hurt. Thank God I was able to continue.”
He later had to search for Checkpoint 2 like other riders. Goncalves still managed to finish the day in tenth position and improve in the standings. Teammate Joan Barreda was one of many riders who struggled with the navigation but managed to ride error-free almost all day. He only had some trouble at a checkpoint after taking a wrong turn. Barreda had to lift his bike over a fence with difficulty. He still took his second podium of the rally.
Brazil’s Zé Hélio enjoyed another solid stage. He only had to deal with early dust, following those who started before him. Zé Hélio improved to 16th in the ranks. Jose Manuel Pellicer had one minor crash, and finished the day around the top 20.
Stage 6 was expected to be a spectacular Andes crossing. But due to rain and snow over the Andes Mountain Range, the Chilean authorities were forced to close the border at the Paso de San Francisco pass, situated at 15,400 feet. Because of the extremely difficult conditions, the organizers have decided to arrange a convoy for all vehicles in order to guarantee the security of the competitors and those following the rally. The itinerary will change and the Andes will be crossed using another route.
Dakar 2012, Stage 5 Results
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM, 2:28:33 hrs
2. Marc Coma (SPA) KTM, 1:41 min behind
3. Joan Barreda (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 12:42
4. Stefan Svitko (SVK) KTM, 13:55
5. Jordi Viladoms (SPA) KTM, 14:17
10. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 19:31
19. Zé Hélio (BRA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 28:20
21. Jose Manuel Pellicer (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 30:47
Dakar 2012, Overall Standings
1. Despres, 14:19:00 hrs
2. Coma, 9:51 min behind
3. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha, 47:56
4. Francisco Lopez (CHI) Aprilia, 49:00
5. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 54:47
16. Zé Hélio (BRA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 1:44:17
30. Jose Manuel Pellicer (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 3:00:56
32. Joan Barreda (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 3:13:26