With his eighth place, Matthias Walkner, another KTM rider, consolidated his third place overall.
Peterhansel, Loeb's team mate who had been almost seven minutes clear on Tuesday and is heading for a record 14th Dakar win, took the stage to extend his lead over Spaniard Carlos Sainz to 31 minutes and 16 seconds. As a result, the trucks and cars were the first to discover the stage, even before their riders, as they made their way through the sands of Tanaka, traversing through 30km or so of mountain dunes.
Benavides leads the general standings, nearly two minutes ahead of France's Yamaha rider Adrien Van Beveren. "The stage was tough, especially the last 50km or so", Santosh said. "I went all out, at very high speeds, and it went well". It took everything that I had and the machine had to make it through today.
Loeb, who won Tuesday's stage for Peugeot and was second overall, halted five kilometers into the 266km stage from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipa, the last overnight stop before the rally enters Bolivia and the high-altitude stages. Benavides is in second place overall, just 1 minute behind AVB, while Walkner is holding fast in third place, just another 14 seconds adrift of Benavides, making the 2018 Dakar Rally a real battle at the front. Barreda Bort is charging ahead and is placed in the fourth position. I am going to attack as much as possible and make up some places.
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Meanwhile, Aravind KP is recovering from his nasty crash of Stage 5.
Sainz, also in a Peugeot and a double world rally champion, got bogged down in the dunes early on and was 18 minutes behind Peterhansel at the finish. Pedrero finished 23rd despite losing 10-15 minutes due to a breakdown prior to the refuelling, while Aravind lost ground on the leaders as he ended the day in 40th position. "It was really cold start in the morning and a very long liaison, and then it started to raining making things worse", Santosh said. I feel good and for me, the race starts now.
The contrast couldn't have hit Dakar 2018 competitors harder as the rally moved from Peru to Bolivia. Overall, Mena now stands at the 21st position at the end of stage 5.
"The day was tough", Brabec said. The bikers will have to change software and get ready for long stretches of good navigation before they hit the sand dunes at a high altitude. Staying true to that tradition, the first part of the 6th stage of the Dakar Rally from Arequipa to La Paz had to be cancelled owing to bad weather and foggy conditions for the riders.
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