Santosh crashes out; Mena, Rodrigues clear stage 5

ROARING IN THE AIR: US biker Ricky Brabec and Argentina's Kevin Benavides power their Hondas during Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally. AFP

Indian rider C S Santosh crashed out in the fifth stage of the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally even as his Hero MotorSports team-mates Oriol Mena and Joaquim Rodrigues dished out gritty performances to reach the finishing line on an incident-filled day here.

The Stage 5 of Dakar 2019 turned out to be an extremely tough and dangerous day for the competitors, claiming its fair share of casualties on Friday.

Santosh suffered a nasty crash between the waypoint 4 and 5, scuttling his chances to pursue the stage further.

The crash brought a premature end to Santosh’s attempt to conquer a record fifth Dakar by an Indian.

According to last received reports, his condition is stable and is currently being attended to by the medical team at a hospital in Tacna.

Not just Santosh, his team-mates Mena and Rodrigues too had a rough outing with both crashing once in the stage.

Mena's crash was quite bad as he lost his bearings for some time after the crash, but miraculously made it to the finish line.

Despite losing time due to the crash, Rodrigues gained some positions, finishing the stage in 18th place.

Mena too overcame the crash to finish the stage in the 16th place.

Overall, after stage 5, Mena managed to retain his overnight 12th pot while Rodrigues climbed up three positions to be placed 28th in the overall rankings.

The fifth stage was quite fast with all the riders going flat out in waves of 10 in a motocross style start.

The presence of fesh-fesh severely impaired the visibility for the riders coming at the back, and stones hidden away in the course of the route made it even more dangerous.

The riders encountered insurmountable dunes in the later part of the stage which compounded their difficulty levels.

The rally will now come to a halt for half a day, giving some respite to the competitors, teams and the organisation to replenish their energies and take a stock of their performances thus far.

The rally will hit the road again Saturday evening for a semi-marathon stage where the riders will camp at a separate bivouac.

From Saturday night onwards, the rally will start backtracking the route back to Lima with stage 6 taking them back to the dusty San Juan De Marcona.

Mena said it was a difficult day in office for all the riders and wished a speedy recovery for his team-mate Santosh.

"The beginning was really nice and easy with comfortable riding. But then at around 268km I think I hit a stone and had a massive crash. But it’s the Dakar and these things happen,” the Spaniard said.

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Santosh crashes out; Mena, Rodrigues clear stage 5

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