Paulo Goncalves continued to press forward and delivered back-to-back top 10 finish as Hero MotoSports consolidated its position after stage 5 of the gruelling Dakar Rally here on Thursday.
Gocalves brought home his bike at the 10th place, while teammate Sebastian Buhler maintained his good form and finished the stage in the 21st position.
The stage 5 of the rally tested the competitors with a 353 km special stage running from Al Ula to Ha’il.
In the sandy surroundings of the day, humongous rocks served as landmarks to avoid costly navigation mistakes. Less technical than the previous ones, but just as impressive with the dunes, and gigantic sandy hills offering a mix of sand and soil to the competitors.
Another Hero rider C S Santosh too had a good stage, finding his rhythm to finish in the 37th place while Joaquim Rodrigues suffered a minor crash, but managed to close the stage in 25th position.
After Thursday’s steady performance, Goncalves climbed up several positions for the second day in a row to finish on 59th place in the overall rankings. Buhler maintained his top 20 position to reach 19th place while Santosh climbed up a few more ranks to break into the top 40 at 39th place in the overall rankings.
With just one more stage to go and the stage complexion changing from being more technical to wide open desert, Friday’s stage is expected to see more competitors trying to push hard in tackling the longest stage of the Dakar yet, with 830 kms to be done, including the 478 km special.
“There was a change in the scenery on Thursday from the trials and stony tracks of the last 3-4 days to the more open desert. In the first part of the stage I tried to push hard and rode well,” Goncalves said.
“After the refuelling, there was 200 kms of open off-piste stage that could be fast but dangerous as well. So I decided to calm my pace a bit down to avoid crashes and arrived well for me and the Hero team. Now we have one more day before we get a rest day to recover well to race for the second week.”