It’s known the world over as being the toughest off-road motorcycle race there is, and today the Dakar Rally showed exactly why the iconic event is feared and revered in equal measure. Turning up the intensity, stage five pushed Laia, and all motorcycle class competitors, harder than on any other day to date. Rising to the challenge, completing the arduous 456-kilometer special stage and once again successfully ticking off another stage finish, Laia brought her GASGAS RC 450F home in 26th position and holds 27th overall, with just one day to go ahead of the mid-event rest day.
Laia Sanz: “Wow, that was a tough day today! I made a mistake with my navigation early on but then it seems like everyone else made the same mistake. Because of this I guess my day wasn’t too bad. After that it was a fun stage with tricky navigation, so I was able to make up some time before the halfway point. I then kept my focus on maintaining a good rhythm but towards the end it was very tiring. My preparation for this year wasn’t the best, but I’m pleased that I’m still pushing at a good pace. Overall, I’m happy and looking forward to tomorrow and then the rest day.”
Stage five provided a physical and technical challenge in equal measure. The early going favored Laia, with the slower speeds and rocky terrain allowing her to put her navigational skills to the test and, quickly overcoming an early mistake, make an impression on the riders ahead. Passing the first waypoint in 18th after taking to the stage in 27th, Laia then once again opted for a ‘no risk’ strategy, completing the remainder of the stage without problems she moves one step closer to the mid-way point of the race.
With the mid-event rest day now in sight, stage six of the 2021 Dakar Rally will see Laia compete over a 618-kilometer stage, featuring a 448-kilometer timed special. With terrain expected to mostly feature sandy tracks and dunes, another tough day in the saddle will thankfully be followed by a day off, allowing some much-needed time to regroup ahead of the second half of the event.
Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2021, stage 5
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 5:09:50
2. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 5:10:50
3. Toby Price (KTM) 5:11:10
26. Laia Sanz (GASGAS) 5:49:29
Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 5)
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 20:15:39
2. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 20:18:10
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 20:19:21
27. Laia Sanz (GASGAS) 22:09:26