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Dakar 2020: P10 for Hero MotoSports' Paulo Goncalves in Stage 5

Team OD  | Updated: January 09, 2020, 09:28 PM IST

The fifth stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally took competitors from Al-Ula to Ha'il, over a total distance of 564km (211km liaison; 353 special). The stage, while not as technical as the previous stages, was still impressive with dunes and sandy hills, and nearly 200km off-piste. Aiding the competitors just a little was the fact that the stage also had gigantic rocks along the way, which helped participants avoid making navigational errors.

Paulo Goncalves took a fine 10th place finish in Stage 5 of the 2020 Dakar

Hero MotoSports Team Rally managed to continue their good form from the previous stage. Their most impressive rider was Paulo "Speedy" Goncalves, who once again took a top 10 finish for the team. While Goncalves stormed to fifth place in Stage 4, he managed to end Stage 5 in 10th position. This means he's managed to move up to 59th overall, slowly recovering from the dreadful setback of Stage 3 of the rally.

Speaking after the stage, Goncalves said, "Today there was a change in the scenery from the trials and stony tracks of the last 3-4 days to the more open desert today. In the first part of the stage I tried to push hard and rode well. After the refuelling, there was 200 kms of open off-piste stage that could be fast but dangerous as well. So I decided to calm my pace a bit down to avoid crashes and arrived well for me and the Hero team. Now we have one more day before we get a rest day to recover well to race for the second week."

Sebastian Buhler continued his run of strong performances to move to 18th overall after five stages

Also putting in an impressive performance was Sebastian Bühler. The German rider has been extremely consistent over the first five stages of the 2020 Dakar, and ended Stage 5 in 21st position. This means that he now moves to 18th overall in the motorcycle category. "It was a hard stage and we had almost 200 kms in the off-piste towards the end. I think I did well today, tried not to go too fast to avoid making any mistakes. The rally is very long and I want to finish with a good place. So let's see how it goes tomorrow," said Bühler.

CS Santosh put in a strong performance to break into the top 40 after five stages

In the meanwhile, Indian rally-raid star CS Santosh also had a good stage. Santosh appears to have found his rhythm now, and seems to have put behind him the accident that he suffered on the first stage of the rally. He finished the stage 38th, and moved up 1 position to 37th after the Dakar Experience competitors were eliminated from the list. This moves him into the top 40 overall - he is ranked 39th after five stages.

"What an amazing last 2 days it has been at the Dakar," said Santosh sounding very happy at the end of the stage. "The last two stage have been tough but really incredible. In the beginning part of the stage today we had some rocks, sands and piste but the second half, for about 200 kms was just open off-piste, camel grass and undulations. I really enjoyed the riding the stage today and I am starting to feel better and more confident on the bike. Can't wait to see what the next few days are going to bring to us," he added.

J-Rod powered through to 25th in Stage 5

Also putting in a solid performance for the team was Joaquim "J-Rod" Rodrigues. While J-Rod might not be part of the overall Dakar rankings, he is still allowed to compete in each stage as per the newly introduced "Dakar Experience". He finished 25th in Stage 5, despite a minor crash. "Difficult day for me today as the stage was really hard. In the beginning I was riding really well but in the second half I had a crash and lost some time. But I am ok for tomorrow and happy that I was able to get my Hero back to the finish line," said a determined J-Rod.

Stage 6 of the Dakar is a long one. Competitors will have to cover 353km of liaison, and 477km of special, on their way from Ha'il to Riyadh where they will finally break for the much-needed rest day.

Provisional Stage 5 Rankings
1. Toby Price, RedBull KTM Racing, 03h 57m 33s
2. Pablo Quintanilla, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, +01m 12s
3. Andrew Short, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, +02m 31s
10. Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +13m 15s
21. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +23m 33s
25. Joaquim Rodrigues, Hero MotoSPorts Team Rally, +27m 59s
37. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +52m 55s

Provisional Overall Rankings after Stage 5
1. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda Racing, 19h 07m 19s
2. Toby Price, RedBull KTM Racing, +09m 06s
3. Kevin Benavides, Monster Energy Honda Racing, +11m 32s
18. Sebastian Buhler, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +01h 44m 57s
39. C S Santosh, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +04h 59m 09s
59. Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Team Rally, +07h 47m 52s

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