On Monday and Wednesday the Russian drivers Andrey Karginov and Airat Mardeev faced a penalty time. Crew No 500 received a two-minute penalty after the second stage of the Dakar, and crew No 509 – per minute for second and fourth special stages. The last penalty did not affect Mardeev‘s position in the general classification, but moved him from sixth to eighth place at the end of yesterday’s racing day. The deputy leader of KAMAZ-master team Eduard Nikolaev received an explanation from the judges.
“The penalties were charged for the zone with a speed limit. The guys started to slow down from the maximum speed of 140 kmh to 30 kmh. Considering the fact that the fight on the current Dakar goes for every second, on a difficult sandy surface it is not always possible to slow down in time to the necessary speed. And entering the speed limit area, the sensors measured overspeeding by 1-2 kmh“, – said Nikolaev before the start of the fifth stage.
Other crews from different categories also faced with penalties. Judging by the comments of some racers, the problems could be in the GPS system, which incorrectly determined location of the sports vehicles.
Initially, the fifth stage of the Dakar was supposed to finish in the city of Buraidah, located more than 300 kilometers from the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, but a few days before the start of the marathon, the control point on the race map shifted towards the Persian Gulf – to Qaisumah, located in the northeast of the kingdom. The increased distance was included into the liaison, and the total distance of the Dakar 2021 exceeded 8000 km.
Today’s 456-kilometer special stage through the Ad-Dahna Desert has become a real hardcore stage and has prepared many unpleasant surprises. The weather also became worse: the sun was covered with thick clouds and it was rainy in some areas of the race. This time car and truck categories were divided at the start. This starting schedule allowed the truck crews not to lose pace on the impassibility, where lighter vehicles slowed down to a safe speed and “broke” them. Siarhei Viazovich was also in the start list – yesterday his MAZ could continue moving after almost 8-hour repair at the special stage. As the Belarusian driver, who had taken the second place after three stages in the general classification, said, the truck suddenly faded: the connection between the engine and the gearbox was lost, including from the sensors that removed rotation from the flywheel. After such a loss of time, it would be extremely difficult for the crew to fight for high positions.
The starting 10-kilometer area fell on low dunes on a fast sandy plateau, after which the rally caravan turned out on a 160-kilometer fast gravel road with crossing a stony river bed. And already at the very beginning, the navigators had to show all their skill not to get lost and choose the right course, allowing them to take a control point. Not everyone managed to cope with the task. For example, eminent contestants in the car category Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb lost about 30 minutes each, and numerous bikers wandered, searching for the right path.
KAMAZ-master crews of Dmitry Sotnikov and Andrey Karginov had to open the way in the truck classification. An entangle tread from hundreds of previously started contestants complicated finding the right way to the maximum. Most successfully out of the navigation labyrinth got Anton Shibalov. With the help of an experienced navigator Dmitry Nikitin, Chelny citizens showed the best time at the 43rd km. Karginov lost 10 minutes in the short racing segment, Sotnikov – 12 minutes and, started the last of the Russian four, Airat Mardeev – 26 minutes. And further Martin Macik began to set the working pace. Confidently performing at this rally, the Czech driver went more than 200 km with the best result of the day, but in the last third of the distance made a forced stop while descending from the dune and let several trucks ahead, thus showing the tenth result at the finish.
A difficult dune section of the first and second levels (that was 25 percent of the entire route) and numerous stones that filled some of the tracks gave a signal for a more attentive ride. In a marathon, which is only approaching its equator, haste does not lead to anything good, and the risk for the sake of a couple of minutes, won from a rival, can turn into withdrawal. Not reaching 155 km, the crew of Siarhei Viazovich stopped again, facing with another breakdown. At the time of the release publication, the truck was at a standstill.
Fans, that were tracking driving of the rally contestants in real time, could become afraid of Andrey Karginov’s crew, seeing him standing at the 330th km and allowing to approach a group of chasers. But there was no reason to worry: this was neutralization zone, which allowed tired crew members to breathe out a little and with renewed vigor continue the struggle for the result. The rush in the last sector brought Karginov his first victory at the Dakar 2021 – 5 hours 26 minutes 39 seconds. The second with a lag of 2 minutes 42 seconds became the Belarusian Aliaksei Vishneuski, who kept behind the changing leaders throughout the race.
Andrey Karginov, pilot of crew No 500: “The navigation was very difficult, the same was the track. At the start, we lost our way, we had to look for the right course. Many crews faced with such problems. There the one, who found the way faster, won. It was not easy in the dunes too, which were wet after the rain. Today we managed to avoid punctures. In general, it was a working and difficult day.”
The overall leader Dmitry Sotnikov overcame the special stage at a high pace of Karginov and showed the third result at the finish (+3 minutes 41 seconds). Anton Shibalov had to drive the final 300 km without spare wheels, avoiding the risk of a new puncture, and his crew coped with this difficult task, given the terrain of the track – the fourth place of the day with a lag of 10 minutes 37 seconds. Airat Mardeev was recorded seventh in the list (+17 minutes 11 seconds).
Anton Shibalov, pilot of crew No 507: “Today was a hard and working day, like a real hell. At the very beginning, the organizers arranged such a navigational labyrinth that many contestants lost time there. Somehow we solved this puzzle, drove out of the canyon, stood behind Dima Sotnikov and began to win back positions. Unfortunately, we punched two wheels: one – in the canyon, the second – at full speed, overtaking the buggy. And already from the 160th km we drove without a spare wheel, and this was a different pace, more accurate and slow. There were good and interesting dunes. Thank God, we got to the finish line.“
Airat Mardeev, pilot of crew No 509: “At the very beginning, a lot of trucks were looking for the right way, it was very hard with the navigation for everyone. A large number of tracks brought confusion, we had to look for all options to go out. When we already chose the right path, we began to attack and tried to make up for the lost time. Almost the entire distance we fought with Loprais, he did not let us ahead for a long time, but nevertheless we ran him around and began to get away. Macik was standing at the way out from the ridge of one of the dunes. I don’t know what happened to them, the mechanic was doing something with the truck. But they finished, it was hardly anything serious.”
A few hours after the finish, another information about the penalty was received from the organizers. 2 minutes were added to the time of Aliaksei Vishneuski, Jaroslav Valtr and, returned to the category Dakar Experience, Gert Huzink received a 15-minute penalty. The unpleasant news was the 20-minute penalty of Andrey Karginov. As the team managed to find out, the reason for the stewards’ decision was an untaken navigation point. All this made significant changes in the competition table of the sports day. Andrey Karginov moved to the seventh place, and Dmitry Sotnikov was recognized as the winner, who had the tenth such success in his career.
Dmitry Sotnikov, pilot of crew No 501: ” From the very beginning the special stage was difficult in terms of navigation. Very fast and short bindings with a sharply changing course did not seem like a big problem until we entered the mountainous terrain. The roadbook was written quite specifically, the course changed so rapidly that it was not easy to understand whether you were keeping the right direction or not. It was a busy day for the navigator. We moved in circles a lot, but in the mountains there was not always an opportunity to go out. Then we puzzled it out and managed to find a way out.”
In the general classification Anton Shibalov climbed up to the second position. His crew was separated from Dmitry Sotnikov by a little more than 30 minutes. Martin Macik is now third and 51 minutes behind the leader. Ales Loprais was 26 seconds ahead of Airat Mardeev in the fight for the fourth line. Karginov stayed on the tenth place.
On Friday, the remaining contestants in the race will enter the last start before the rest day – the road to Ha’il will be completely sandy and smooth. The route of the 448-km stage (plus a liaison of 170 km) abounds with dunes of all shapes and colors and will test the racers’ ability to overcome them in different directions.
Truck category. Ranking of the 5th stage. Top-10
Truck category. General classification after the 5th stage. Top-10
|9||506||Martin VAN DEN BRINK||RENAULT||22:07:31||01:51:13|