Dangerously high temperatures forced Dakar Rally organisers to cut short the fifth stage of the motorcycle leg today.
Three-time rally winner Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM) was the clear victor and now leads the rally by more than 40 minutes over Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort.
Meanwhile, five-time winner Frenchman Cyril Despres struggled with navigation and then ran out of fuel on his Yamaha, coming in 34th. He also copped an hour’s penalty possibly for missing a waypoint, plunging him back to 13th overall and possibly out of contention.
KTM is looking more and more likely to clinch its 13th straight title with three of the top four positions and the main competition coming from Bort on a Honda in second and Frenchman Alain Duclos on a Sherco.
The three remaining Aussies put in solid performances with Troy O’Connor (KTM) having his best finish yet with a 40th and moving him up to 42nd place overall.
Shane Diener (Yamaha) finished 55th and is in 64th and Allan Roberts (KTM) finished 66th to be outright 53rd.
Aussie KTM riders Ben Grabham, Clayton Jacobsen and Mark Davidson have withdrawn from the rally with mechanical problems and injuries.