Danilo Petrucci dodges camel to win Dakar Stage 5

Motorcycle News

KTM's Danilo Petrucci becomes the first former MotoGP rider to win a stage of the Dakar

Danilo Petrucci on Dakar

Petrucci's cautious approach won the day on stage 5


Danilo Petrucci has said he was “crying like a baby” after becoming the first former MotoGP rider to win a stage of the Dakar.

The KTM rider, who is riding in his first rally-raid event with a fractured ankle, finished first in stage five of the event, following a series of impressive performances over the Saudi Arabian dunes.

Despite a cautious approach for stage 5, Petrucci, who left the Tech3 KTM MotoGP team at the end of this season, still suffered his first crash after cresting a hill to find a camel in his path.

After the stage was stopped early when medical air support became unavailable, he was classified second and was promoted to stage winner after the fastest finisher, team-mate Toby Price was penalised for speeding in a neutralisation zone.

“I’m crying like a baby, I cannot write,” Petrucci wrote on Instagram after the stage, as fellow riders including Marc Márquez and Cal Crutchlow posted their congratulations.

Later, in a KTM press release, he described the challenges of the day’s stage.

“Today was quite a long day,” said Petrucci. “I really wanted to learn and improve my navigation, so I didn’t push too hard at the beginning.

“After one corner there was a large dune with a group of camels on the other side. One big camel came into the track, and I had to avoid it, but ended up crashing after going across a lot of bumps and camel grass. That was my very first crash of this Dakar.

“After that I eased off a bit and [team-mate] Kevin Benavides caught up with me and we rode together towards the finish.

“The last 60 kilometers were all dunes and so I was very careful there to make sure I didn’t hurt my ankle. So, it’s been an interesting and tough day, but I have really enjoyed it.”

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Despite not having competed in rally-raid previously, Petrucci has kept pace with the frontrunners.

He recorded the third fastest time in stage four, but was penalised for speeding, and had shown the potential for a strong overall finish before a fuel pump issue on stage two ended his hopes.

Petrucci discovered that he had lost his mobile phone, and could not call his team to instruct him on repairs, forcing him to request assistance from the organisers, earning him an 11-hour penalty.

“MotoGP and the Dakar are the opposites of the motorcycling world,” he said before the event. “In MotoGP we spend a lot of time looking at the computer. In rallies you don’t have any computers, you just stay on the bike and you have to solve the problems yourself, with your talent, your capabilities and your body. It’s a big challenge and it’s very exciting. My target for this time is just to try and finish the race.”