Stage 05: Done and very much dusted.

Stony hills, riverbed crossings, fesh fesh, broken tracks, and off piste sections littered with boulders conspired together with the ever present challenge of navigation in a punishing 136km leg to Arica. Even the leaders were taken aback by the difficulty of the seemingly short stage in which passing was both onerous and perilous.

Comments from Todd Smith:
“Stage 5 was a tough one, thank God its done! I didn’t have much energy as a result of yesterday but went ok. I stopped along the way to help (fellow Australian) Troy O’Connor. I gave him a spanner then a heap of quads got back past me. It was tight running in bull dust for ages after. I lost time at the end because they changed the road book for the last 10km and I went back to check it out. The stage itself started with knee deep fesh fesh (bulldust) then 11km off piste rock field (with no defined road), and more fesh fesh. I was constantly passing riders. To top off the exhaustion we lose 2 hours tonight with the change of time zones!”

Glenn Hoffmann: “After Stage 4, Todd and Brett were pretty drained but they both soldiered through Stage 5 and that’s what matters. Everyone riding for the team is up to it. The mechanics are up to it. We keep going. Obviously Todd’s troubles are frustrating because they came just as he was coming to grips with the sand and the navigation. But the team are doing what they do best. It’s a long race. The bikes are fast and the boys are uninjured. Warren (Strange) is in the top 30 and riding really well. He’s always had the ability but this year he’s incredibly focused on the end result. Each of the last three days has brought an improvement in the standings for him. Same thing for Paul Smith who is very strong in the rough terrain. He’s still looking to sneak into the top 10 quads. The longer and tougher the stage, the better he does on the 700XX. The next couple of days are expected to be long, brutal shifts for everyone but that’s why we’re here.”

GHR times and placings: MOTO
28th #131 – STRANGE Warren 13h01m04s (+01:09:35 behind leader)
50th #156 – SMITH Todd 14h45m04s (+02:53:35 behind leader)
89th #089 – CUMMINGS Brett 16h34m56s (+04:43:27 behind leader)

GHR times and placings: QUAD
16th #274 – SMITH Paul 16h42m12s (+03:21:16 behind leader)

Stage 6 Arica > Calama will be the longest yet at a total of 769km, including an extensive 455km special. The bikes have a very early start at 04:30, perceived as 02:30 due to a change in time zone. The bikes, quads, cars and trucks share a single route once more so the added pressure of traffic will compound the duress as they move into the Atacama Desert. A neutralised zone mid stage will provide some time for recovery before they’re dropped knee deep into fesh fesh. While the top 25 riders in the moto division are still only separated by a single hour, the lengthy stage, fatigue and damage are bound to mix things up.

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Dakar 2013: Stage 6 Arica > Calama. Courtesy of” width=”590″ height=”267″ /><p class=Dakar 2013: Stage 6 Arica > Calama. Courtesy of