Carlos Sainz in action in Saudi Arabia in the Dakar Rally
Carlos Sainz in action in Saudi Arabia in the Dakar Rally. Image Credit: AFP

Ha’il: Carlos Sainz padded his lead in the Dakar Rally after winning the fifth stage on Thursday.

Sainz doubled his lead over defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah to six minutes, and to nearly 18 minutes over Stephane Peterhansel. All three drivers shared the previous three Dakars in South America, and have won it at least twice. Nobody else was within 30 minutes of Sainz.

They finished 1-2-3 on the 353km stage from Al Ula to Ha’il.

“We gained three minutes and pushed really hard at the end,” Sainz said. “I’m very happy because the car is working well. I had a flat tire at the start of the special, but I managed to make up the time.”

Motorbikes leader Ricky Brabec of the United States also improved his position to nine minutes over stage winner Toby Price, the titleholder from Australia. Sam Sunderland, the 2017 champion, crashed out halfway through. The Briton injured his back and left shoulder.