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First Class for Petrucci and Lategan

#225 Lategan Henk (zaf), Cummings Brett (zaf), Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+, Auto FIA T1/T2, action during the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally 2022 around Riyadh, on January 6th 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O. / C.Lopez

FOCUS
Today was an unprecedented one on the Dakar. While in Latin America, specific portions for the bikes saw
the light of day, today the entire stage was different for the FIA and FIM categories, who both travelled on
different looped routes around the capital, with the cars starting their special in the early hours of the morning
just like the bikers, who had previously been used to being the only ones woken up in the middle of the night
to leave the bivouac. The reward for the FIA categories for this awakening before the first call to prayers was
that the quickest among them were able to arrive at the bivouac and enjoy the early afternoon sunshine.
Beforehand, a special measuring 421 km to the north of Riyadh led the four-wheeled caravan into the
province of Ach-Charquiya, to the east of the kingdom, bordered by the shores of the Arabian Gulf and the
crossroads between the major civilisations of the Orient, Mesopotamia and the Indies. In the bike race, the
346-km special to the east of Riyadh was shorter but held a few surprises in store. Tomorrow, the day before
the rest day, the competitors will swap loops: the one to the east for the cars, with the bikes and quads to the
north. It will be a crucial day by the end of which all the leading lights will hope to enjoy positions of strategic
importance before the return leg towards Jeddah.

#511 Casale Ignacio (chl), Leon Alvaro (chl), Sikola Tomas (cze), Tatra Buggyra Racing, Tatra Phoenix, T5 FIA Camion, action during the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally 2022 around Riyadh, on January 6th 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O. /F. Le Floch / DPPI

OUTLINE
Both of their reputations preceded them, but by winning their first specials on the Dakar, Danilo Petrucci on
his bike and Henk Lategan in the car race have gained a whole new status. The Italian KTM rider and star of
the Moto GP circuits has logically enrolled in the Rally 2 class for his first attempt at a rally-raid. Though he is
participating in order to learn, today he triumphed ahead of the discipline’s most experienced riders on his sixth
day of racing. He is what you might call a gifted learner (see “Performance of the day”), even if “Petrux” did
not have to grapple too much with navigation in order to win the day’s special and benefitted from a penalty
handed out to Toby Price, the quickest biker over the sand and rocks, allowing him to hit the jackpot at the
end of the day. The terrain did not throw up any difficulties for the trio of Sunderland, Walkner and Van
Beveren, who still lead the general rankings with hardly anything to choose between them, but it did leave
several pretenders for the title sprawling. Joan Barreda is even unsure of carrying on tomorrow (see “A
crushing blow”), whilst the Husqvarna staff are clearly preparing for the prospect of an early exit from the rally
for Skyler Howes. The shortened stage for the quads smiled on Manuel Andújar, winner for the 4th time this
year but unable, however, to worry Pablo Copetti, 13 minutes higher than him in the general rankings. In the
car race, the phenomenal Henk Lategan had already shone last year before prematurely withdrawing from
the Dakar during the 5th stage. This year the young virtuoso on four wheels has again left pieces of his car in
his wake as well as losing time that will prevent him from aiming for the overall podium, yet he was able to put
in a fine performance on the day’s special: 2 minutes better than Sébastien Loeb, who finished in second
place after the 421 kilometres on the programme. Just behind him, Lucio Alvarez (3rd) and Mathieu Serradori
(4th) also displayed skills that allow them to aim high for the return to Jeddah. Nasser Al-Attiyah is currently
contenting himself with remaining watchful of Loeb but should also keep an eye on his Argentinean team-mate
at Toyota, who is 3rd in the general rankings. The lightweight prototypes category is still dominated by the
South Racing duo of “Chaleco” López and Sebastian Eriksson, separated by 22 minutes, leaving Seth
Quintero to pile up the wins, with stage number 5 for the “kid”. In the SSV race, however, Austin Jones was
dethroned from the leader’s seat by Brazilian Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira, both behind the wheel of a CanAm and now separated by 4 minutes. Finally, Dmitry Sotnikov won his third stage this week and retains the lead in the general rankings but is not out of reach of his team-mate Eduard Nikolaev, who trails him by less
than ten minutes in second place.

#11 Cornejo Florimo Jose Ignacio (chl), Monster Energy Honda Team 2022, Honda CRF 450 Rally, Moto, W2RC, Motul, action during the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally 2022 around Riyadh, on January 6th 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O. / J. Delfosse / DPPI

PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY
At the age of 31 years, Danilo Petrucci is participating in his first Dakar and is learning at lightning speed.
This is not surprising for a recent retiree from the Moto GP circuits who spent ten years of his life racing round
them. With ten podium places and ten victories in the ultimate category, the Italian almost opened his rally-raid
victory account yesterday. After finishing third on stage 4 of his new career, “Petrux” received a 10-minute
penalty at the bivouac… for speeding! You could not make it up! After the gravel traps alongside the circuit
tracks, the Tech 3 KTM rider today got a taste of Saudi Arabian sand when he had to avoid a dromedary.
“That’s my first rally-raid fall. After that I calmed down a little, Kevin Benavides caught up with me and we
finished the special together”. At the finishing line, the newcomer to the KTM team, who took the liberty of
following the title holder’s pace after only five days of racing, achieved the day’s second-best time. By a twist
of fate, today he in turn benefited from a speeding penalty on arriving in Riyadh, specifically the one handed
out to his team-mate Toby Price, who was the quickest rider of the day but received a 6-minute punishment.
Never before has a Moto GP rider become an official rider on the Dakar from one day to the next. It is a safe
bet that Petrucci will continue breaking the “rookie” mould by the time the rally returns to Jeddah as well as
during next season in the world championship, in which the Mattighofen based constructor has already
enrolled him.

#226 Chicherit Guerlain (fra), Winocq Alex (fra), GCK Motorsport, GCK Thunder, Auto FIA T1/T2, W2RC, Motul, W2RC, action during the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally 2022 around Riyadh, on January 6th 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O. /F. Le Floch / DPPI

A CRUSHING BLOW
When you have Joan Barreda hot on your heels, it is difficult to not give in to the pressure. However, when
the Spaniard is not hunting but is the hunted, with the unenviable task of opening the way for his rivals, the
tendency is often reversed. After winning the special the day before, the rider with 29 stage wins (at least one
per year since 2012) set off as scout for the day. By the first time check point, “Bang Bang” had already lost
more than two minutes and the situation only got worse as the race went on, until he met with misfortune
between the 265 and 270 km marks: Barreda fell and hurt his shoulder. It was his team-mate Pablo
Quintanilla who helped him back up to get back behind the handlebars of his Honda 450 CRF and reach the
finish. He lost more than 20 minutes during this episode and his hopes of achieving his very first podium finish
on the Dakar (yes, you have read that correctly – his very first !) have suffered a blow. He now lies 22’58’’
behind Sam Sunderland, though he may still set off on one of his famous comebacks to improve on the 5th
place he achieved in 2017. However, his injured shoulder may not even allow him that opportunity: both the
rider and his team’s medical staff prefer to wait until tomorrow before deciding whether to carry on with the
adventure. One thing that can be said is that Barreda is more than used to gritting his teeth hard against
adversity.

#501 Shibalov Anton (rus), Nikitin Dmitrii (rus), Tatarinov Ivan (rus), Kamaz-Master, Kamaz 43509, T5 FIA Camion, action during the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally 2022 around Riyadh, on January 6th 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O. /F. Le Floch / DPPI

STAT OF THE DAY: 33
Struck by bad luck on several occasions since his debut last year, Henk Lategan has often come close to the
top step on the podium before it has slipped out of his grasp. Even today, the Toyota driver from the South
African Gazoo Racing team had to deal with a door that would not shut, which just goes to show! A victory on
the Dakar is something you have to work for, but now that is done and dusted; at the age of 27 years, the
South African has finally added a success to his personal roll of honour. In achieving such a feat, he has
enabled South Africa to increase its number of victories on the Dakar to 33. In passing, he has added his name
to the list of his country’s greatest representatives, alongside Giniel De Villiers (with 17 victories) or Alfie Cox
(8) whose son Bradley is tackling his first Dakar this year on a bike and is battling for the title in the Rally 2
class against Mason Klein. Among the rainbow nation’s successes, Lategan’s also stands out thanks to
having been accomplished in a vehicle partially developed in the country by the Gazoo Racing team. South
Africa really does have some fine surprises in store for us.
W2RC : Loeb levels up With his lowliest performance since the beginning of the first leg of the world rally-raid championship, AlAttiyah has allowed Loeb, the day’s winner, to draw back level on points. While it is obvious that the battle between the two men for the crown in Jeddah has been on the cards since several days ago, it seems like the
wider contest is set to carry on for the rest of the year! They both have 18 points each after 5 days of the
championship. Behind them, with half as many points, Al Rajhi and Alvarez are providing backup to Nasser
for the constructor’s title which currently looks set to go to Toyota. However, Nani Roma is 5th with 8 points,
ready to assist Loeb in putting Prodrive in the reckoning. In the T3 class there is another duel at the summit
of the race hierarchy. Seth Quintero for the OT3 Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team has succeeded in
redressing the balance after drawing a blank on stage 2. He has regained the lead with a score of 20 points,
against 19 pour Francisco López of EKS South Racing. Behind them, there is an identical scenario to the
T1 class. Two of the leader’s team-mates have boxed in “Chaleco” thanks to the performances of Cristina
Gutiérrez and Guillaume de Mévius. In the T4 class, Austin Jones, the South Racing Can-Am Factory
driver, has still not picked up the 5 points awarded for a stage victory. Poland’s Michał Goczał, driving for the
Cobant-Energylandia Rally Team, boasts two stage wins and 17 points in total against 16 for the American
who is instead relying in his consistency, tied with South Racing Can-Am driver Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira.
In the T5 class, Martin Macík from Big Shock Racing has pocketed a fourth stage victory out of 5 specials
and now boasts 23 points under his belt against 18 for Kees Koolen, who is flying the flag for Project 2030.
In the bike category, although we will have to wait until the end of the Dakar to award points to drivers and
constructors, GasGas continues to sit atop the virtual rankings with Sunderland still leading the race, followed
by the current world champion, KTM’s Matthias Walkner. Daniel Sanders, just behind the Austrian in the
championship, has reinforced the position of the Gerona based constructor. In the Rally 2 class, rookies
Mason Klein and Bradley Cox are still holding out against the best French representative on the Dakar 2021,
Camille Chapelière.

#173 Copetti Pablo (usa), Del Amo Motorsports / Yamaha Rally Team, Yamaha Raptor, Quad, Motul, action during the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally 2022 around Riyadh, on January 6th 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © A.S.O. / J. Delfosse / DPPI

THE MAKINGS OF A CLASSIC
Ondrej Klymciv is not a newcomer to the Dakar, but his profile among the competitors in the Dakar Classic
is just as surprising as his vehicle. It is rare for young racing retirees to jump directly from behind the handlebars
to the wheel of a historical vehicle. The Czech made his debut on a bike in 2015 and achieved a promising
20th place, before climbing to 12th position in 2017. The performances in these two years were interspersed
with heavy falls that eventually led him to kiss goodbye to his hopes of joining an official team. Last year, he
returned to the ranks of the competitors, making a last-minute enrolment on the Dakar Classic in a Škoda
L130, a two-wheel drive vehicle that is not the most comfortable on the sands of Saudi Arabia! It was a brave
choice but an inescapable one for him. His Škoda is the only model made by the constructor to have raced in
group B and to be admissible, according to his research: “It is a Czech vehicle, it is very dear to our hearts and
it’s only two months older than me. When I was a child in the communist era, we didn’t have enough money
to buy a car like that. Instead, we had two-stroke Trabants. This one belonged to my aunt, so I have many
childhood memories in it”. An example of this is the noise of the hinge and the characteristic clanging of the
door which driver Ondrej does not get tired of slamming. This year, he has gone entirely back to the drawing
board with his Škoda, which has gained fifteen centimetres of ground clearance. Such transformations were
time consuming, meaning Andrej had only driven 5 km before setting off for the transfer from Marseille. This
has not put off the sturdy Czech driver whose ambitions have also been heightened as he claims to be aiming
for the podium. Ondrej was in 9th place in the provisional general rankings this morning with his new co-pilot
Tomas Bohm, who was a mechanic last year. “We are good friends. I think that is more important than being
a professional navigator”. It is a classic vision of rally-raid, unquestionably idealistic.

QUOTE OF THE DAY
Henk Lategan: “We’ve had just the craziest day”
The South African, who already achieved respectable finishes on his first participation last year (when he
exited the rally on stage 5), has today managed to win his first special on the Dakar.
“I still don’t believe it. I’m not sure what happened. We’ve honestly had a day from hell. We’ve had a proper,
proper Dakar day. It started 10 kilometres from the start when my door broke. It went open and I was driving
until the first control point with the door flapping open. Then I managed to solve that, I strapped myself in and
couldn’t open the door. Then we had a puncture, so I had to climb out of the navigator’s door and change the
puncture. So, we’ve had just the craziest day. I can’t actually believe that we have won the stage.”

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First Class for Petrucci and Lategan

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