Dakar: Stage five report

Caldecott puts Oz on top of Dakar scene In the bike special between Agadir and Smara (380kms), Andy Caldecott won his first ever a stage on the Dakar rally. Meanwhile Marc Coma, second on the day, captured the overall lead. In the car special,...

Caldecott puts Oz on top of Dakar scene

In the bike special between Agadir and Smara (380kms), Andy Caldecott won his first ever a stage on the Dakar rally. Meanwhile Marc Coma, second on the day, captured the overall lead. In the car special, Colin McRae clinched his second special on the rally to capture overall leadership. In a dramatic truck race, Tchaguine took advantage of Gerard de Rooy's crash to comfort his lead.

Year after year, the Telefonica Dakar rally gets more international and touches far away nations. A major nation on the sportingscene, Australia became a winning country on the Dakar scene again thanks to Andy Caldecott (KTM -- n°23), 6 years after Andy Haydon grabbed two stages back in 98. The 40 year-old KTM rider had already impressed last year for his first appearance by earning himself an excellent third spot on the stage to Tan Tan but was forced to retire from the race in Atar while in 7th position overall.

Taking off the rally on a KTM 660cc in the KTM Team Australia alongside teammate David Schwartz, Caldecott insisted inBarcelona that his goal was "only to make it to Dakar". Well, he added a touch of triumph to his African quest on the tricky special to Smara in Southern Morocco. The Aussie clocked the best time at the first CP1 (km 111), before Marc Coma (KTM -- n°6), his closest rival on the day, had the best times at the following two CPs (km184 and 290). The tall KTM rider eventually managed to beat the Spaniard by a tiny 3sec advantage on the finish line of the special. Third was Cyril Despres (KTM -- n°2), who suffered trip master problems and finished over 3' adrift, ahead of team mate Alfie Cox (KTM -- n°3) and Isidre Esteve (KTM -- n°7).

While Australia will probably be celebrating Caldecott's glorious day, Spain and Catalunya who welcomed the rally just a few days ago will be going wild with Marc Coma becoming the new overall leader. The young KTM-Repsol official rider leads the rally with a 42" advantage on Caldecott and 2'42" on Despres. Meanwhile, former leader David Frétigné (YAM -- n°12) suffered navigation problems after following the tracks of amateur tourist bikers. The Frenchman took a wrong direction for 4km and eventually finished the special over 10' behind the day's special. Fretigné is now 7th overall, at 9'34". A good day it was for Coma... a sad one for his compatriot Jordi Duran (KTM -- n°16). The newcomer who had claimed a promising fourth spot in Granada crashed at km 100 and broke both his femur and his collar bone. Duran was forced to withdraw from the race.

On extremely rocky tracks, the car special was just as spectacular with maximum speeds close to 190-200km/h for the favourites. And when it comes to fast stages, Colin McRae has become a Dakar specialist. Already a winner in Granada, two days ago, and in Ayoun El Atrous and Dakar a year ago, the British driver flew to stage 4 success with an impressive 6'15" advantage on his teammate Giniel De Villiers (NIS -- n°314) and 7'18" on Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW -- n°310). By doing so, the 95 WRC World champion moved back to the overall leadership he had left after yesterday's special. This time, however, the Scot has a rather interesting 5'28" advance on De Villiers.

Fourth on the day, Qatari driver Nasser Al Attiyah (BMW -- n°318) kept hope alive for BMW after a rather calm start to the rally. Finishing over 7' adrift, Al Attiyah who finished 10th of last year's edition, proved to the German brand and his rivals that he would be one to keep an eye on. On the other hand, it was a dreadful day for the Mitsubishi clan. Except for Luc Alphand (MIT - n°312) who finished in 5th position, the two other leaders of the Japanese team suffered serious technical hiccups. Title holder Stephane Peterhansel (MIT -- n°306) had to settle with a 24' deficit on McRae due to numerous punctures. Meanwhile, and in a far worst position, Hiroshi Masuoka (MIT -- n°309) was struggling with severe transmission problems and finished the stage over 3 hours adrift.

The truck race proved that it's never 'over until it's over'... All the way to CP3 (km 280), Gerard De Rooy (DAF -- n°516) was flying to a probable stage success with a 14'51" lead on his father Jan (DAF -- n°521) and over 17' on Tchaguine (KAM -- n°515). But it all went wrong at km 310 when the young Dutch driver went for a tumble, leaving his DAF truck on its side. At the beginning of the rally, De Rooy insisted on the fact that "you never have enough experience". Indeed he was right, as he was forced to wait for the help of his assistance truck. Meanwhile, Tchaguine was gently heading for his second victory in two days, eventually beating De Azevedo (TAT -- n°518) by 1'46" and multiple Dakar winner Karel Loprais (TAT -- n°519) by over 4'. The Russian Kamaz driver now has a 6'17" overall lead on teammate Firdaus Kabirov (KAM -- n°520).

-www.dakar.com

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About this article
Series Dakar
Drivers Colin McRae , Hiroshi Masuoka , Alfie Cox , Gerard de Rooy , Karel Loprais , Marc Coma , David Fretigne , Jordi Duran , Andy Caldecott