Sam Sunderland demonstrated his navigational skills to win in Oruro, taking advantage of his rivals’ problems, on a special that was shortened to 219 kilometres due to poor weather.
The Dakar convoy has now driven further into the high plains of Bolivia. This dreamy setting can quickly turn into a nightmare for the competitors who had to adapt to the wide variety of terrains on offer, with crossing of dunes and especially an exercise in navigation that was conducive to a profound change in the standings, a hierarchy which has already been very unstable this year.
Sam Sunderland has been consistent since the start of the rally and was biding his time to make the perfect strike. He brilliantly achieved his goal this Friday, with his second special stage victory on the Dakar that was also synonymous with taking command of the general standings. The Englishman was the only rider to not get lost in the Bolivian dunes, unlike Pablo Quintanilla, Xavier de Soultrait, Matthias Walkner or Joan Barreda, who all lost a lot of ground.
Joan Barreda, the undisputed leader of the general standings yesterday evening with a lead of more than 18 minutes, saw his hopes of keeping the lead cave in today. Firstly, the official HRC rider received a one hour time penalty for having refuelled outside the authorised zone yesterday, before having a hellish stage and getting lost after approximately 150 km of the special. The Spaniard lost 37 minutes to the day’s winner and plunges down the general standings to 1 hour 12 minutes behind the leader.
Sam Sunderland has become the fifth different winner in five stages in the bike race. Juan Pedrero, Toby Price, Joan Barreda and Matthias Walkner preceded him and now the race is even more open than ever!