Hero MotoSports rider CS Santosh was back in action mode traversing through the high altitude region as he completed the stage in 38th position and 56th overall. Red Bull KTM's Matthias Walkner remains third with a 2m50s gap to new leader Benavides.
Stephane Peterhansel started first following his Wednesday stae victory, but it was his Team Peugeot Total teammate Carlos Sainz (pictured) who ruled the day and took the win four minutes ahead of him and five minutes ahead of Toyota's Nasser Al-Attiyah. The last of the Peruvian sand routes proved to be challenging, with a technical track that forced riders to pay careful attention to their navigation as they negotiated the tall Tanaka dunes before finishing with a high-speed run over a rocky two-track section.
Benavides has a 1min 57sec lead over French Yamaha rider Adrien van Beveren in the overall standings. Aravind's dream of becoming the only second Indian to finish the Dakar Rally has shattered again due to this unfortunate incident. The stage was tough, especially the last 50km or so. "This is really important, and I hope that we get the chance to make up even more time".
As Peterhansel took another step towards his 14th Dakar title Loeb's dream of winning his first Dakar was left in tatters after his vehicle twice ran into early sand trouble on the run from San Juan de Marcona to Arequipe in Peru. Aravind KP put in another good performance and improved his position by 10, ending the stage in 30th place, impressing everyone with his handling of the bike.
"The idea was to go out and attack, and it went pretty well, but I had a slight mishap with the fuel and I lost some time fixing it", Benavides said.More news: US Ambassador Kenneth Juster Reassures Indians On H-1B Visa Fears
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In the 5th stage, the organisers separated the route for the Quads/Bikes and Cars/Trucks.
Sainz, also in a Peugeot and a double world rally champion, got bogged down in the dunes early on and was 18 minutes behind Peterhansel at the finish. He finished nearly 28 minutes behind Sunderland.
"It was a tough day for me today", Quintanilla said.
Indias C S Santosh and Oriol Mena of Hero MotoSports team continued with their strong show in the gruelling Dakar Rally even as the sixth stage from Arequipa in Peru to La Paz was affected by weather. The American moved back into 10th place overall after Stage 5.
Unpredictable weather played the real cards yesterday and the first part of the 6th stage from Arequipa to La Paz had to be cancelled owing to bad weather and foggy conditions. The dunes were really churned up and the sand was incredibly soft.