News 7 Jan 2011

Gonçalves takes first ever Dakar stage victory on day five

Paulo Goncalves won his first Dakar stage today for BMW.

Paulo Goncalves won his first Dakar stage today for BMW.

After tackling the first dunes on the Personal Dakar Argentina Chile, Francisco Lopez thought he had won his fourth stage on the Dakar.

But the time taken by Paulo Gonçalves, fourth to finish the special, was modified to take account of the assistance he gave to Olivier Pain, who crashed at the 231km point.

The Portuguese rider picked up his first victory on the Dakar as a result.

Lopez has made a habit of winning at least one stage at home since the Dakar has been hosted by his country. Last year, ‘Chaleco’ missed out on this prestigious stage due to a navigational mistake.

This time, after a faultless performance all along the 423km of the Day’s special, the Chilean fans’ favourite offered himself a royal descent down to the now famous finish at Iquique, with its three in 10 gradient and many spectators.

Success seemed to be on the side of Lopez, because when it came to totting up, he appeared to have won the stage by one second from Frans Verhoeven.

The Dutchman could thus harbour legitimate regrets about the crash he suffered only two kilometres from the finishing line, condemning him to second place.

However, in the end he picked up third place, because Paulo Gonçalves benefited from a correction of his time to win his first special.

It is also the first victory for BMW on the Dakar since the era of Richard Sainct, who triumphed on a German-made bike in 1999 and 2000.

The state of play in the general standings requires a fair bit of explanation after today’s stage. Firstly, one of the top 10 left the race just at the moment when he was at its forefront.

Olivier Pain, who had just put in the best provisional time after 218km, crashed at the 231km point. With a broken wrist, the Yamaha rider was airlifted by the medical helicopter from the race route.

The accident had a knock-on effect on the positions gained in Iquique.

In fact, Marc Coma, who finished 13 minutes behind Lopez due to a fall at the start of the special (after 80km) stopped and gave up some time, like Gonçalves, to help Olivier Pain.

Provisionally second in the general standings, the Spaniard benefitted from a correction to his result, enabling him to retain his position as leader, 10:14 ahead of Despres.

Bearing in mind that the title holder received a 10 minute penalty due to a lack of attention to the starting procedures on stage four, the differences gained on the track are minimal between the two favourites.

Lopez lies in third position, 18:32 behind Coma, while the day’s hero is in fourth position, trailing the race leader by 21:42.

Australian Jacob Smith finished the stage 41st, now sitting in 33rd overall, while Simon Pavey is now 79th. Warren Strange lies in 83rd position, however Mark Davidson has had to withdraw for unknown reasons at this point.

Dakar Rally 2011
Stage 5 Results

1. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal BMW
2. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
3. Frans Verhoeven, Belgium, BMW
4. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
5. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
41. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
67. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW
119. Warren Strange, Australia, Honda

Overall Standings After Stage 5
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
3. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
4. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal BMW
5. Jose Rodrigues, Brazil, BMW
33. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
79. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW
83. Warren Strange, Australia, Honda