Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toby Price, Seth Quintero and Rokas Baciuška all starred during Thursday's punishing Stage Five at the 45th edition of motorsport’s toughest test of endurance, the Dakar Rally.
- The compact sand on Stage Five caused plenty of problems, but it couldn't have gone much better for defending car champion Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel in their Toyota GR DKR Hilux T1+. The 52-year-old Qatari said: "It was a very tough stage. We tried to push like crazy and took a lot of risk. Now we're tired after pushing so much."
- The reason they needed to push so much was last night's announcement by organisers that they will permit Team Audi Sport to increase the maximum power of their Audi RS Q e-tron E2 cars with Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz both making use of the extra input to bounce along to the second and third fastest car times respectively. The Frenchman revealed: "This was one of the hardest stages of my life. We took a lot of impact on the back and the neck."
- Illness and collisions have shaken up the bike standings with leader Daniel Sanders forced to ride well within himself after waking up feeling unwell, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Price and Argentine Kevin Benavides taking advantage to move up to second and third overall.
- Australian Price, 35, said: "Barreda had a crash so we stopped for him for about five or six minutes to make sure he was all good. I also went down, so I've got to get my shoulder sorted for the next day."
- Sadly Spaniard Laia Sanz and co-driver Maurizio Gerini crashed out - but were thankfully unharmed - as Rally2 biker Camille Chapelière also returns early back to his French home to recover from his arm injury.
- In the T3 contest there was a fightback from Quintero of the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA presented by BFGoodrich, the 20-year-old American and his co-driver Dennis Zenz clawing back 15 minutes on race leaders Guillaume De Mevius/François Cazalet.
- There was another stage win in T4 for Baciuška and co-driver Oriol Vidal, the 23-year-old Lithuanian moving 4m33s closer to the summit of the leaderboard.
- The Saudi Arabian odyssey from coast to coast continues during today's Stage Six with the 467km timed special stage including a barrage of dunes over the final third.
The 2023 Dakar Rally is located in Saudi Arabia and runs from December 31, 2022 – January 15, 2023.
Image: Nasser Al Attiyah PHOTO: TOYOTA GAZOO RACING