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MotoGP Race Winner Danilo Petrucci Stuns Dakar Competitors With Victory on Stage 5

Danilo Petrucci was fired from his KTM satellite MotoGP team just a few months ago. In the process, KTM offered him a ride at the Dakar Rally this year. This was widely viewed as a publicity stunt or, at the least, a consolation prize for the well-liked Italian.

What Petrucci has done at this year’s Dakar Rally against its hardened veterans is amazing. Petrucci won Stage Five yesterday after time penalties were sorted out, and rode to 3rd place on Stage Four before his own time penalty knocked him down the standings.

Petrucci is rumored to be exploring a MotoAmerica Superbike ride with Ducati next year, but, in the meantime, he has “made the Rally aces look a bit ridiculous or ashamed” according to Heinz Kinigadner, a two-time motocross world champion who is a consultant to KTM.

Here is a KTM press release on Petrucci’s victory on Stage 5:

Dakar Rally 2022 – Stage Five

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci has won stage five of the Dakar Rally. Putting in a fast but measured performance, the former MotoGP™ star impressed once again by posting the fastest time on the 341-kilometer special. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price was initially quickest on the stage, but was later awarded a six-minute penalty, which dropped him down to fifth. Kevin Benavides brought his KTM 450 RALLY home in eighth, with Matthias Walkner claiming 11th.

In what has been a race of huge highs and lows for Danilo Petrucci, the Italian has proven his offroad credentials in no uncertain terms today, winning stage five of the 2022 Dakar in what is his first ever rally raid competition. Completing yesterday’s stage four as third fastest, Danilo was penalized 10 minutes for speeding, and was relegated to 15th. However, setting off with an advantageous start position into today’s special, and focusing on improving his roadbook skills, the MotoGP race winner was able to steadily move up through the field to ultimately take the win.

Friday’s stage six of the Dakar will see the bike class follow the same route that the cars took today, and as such Danilo will have some tracks already left in the sand ahead of him as he opens his first ever rally stage.

Danilo Petrucci:“Today was quite a long day. I set off this morning and decided 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 Kevin caught up with me and we rode together towards the finish. After catching a few more riders we came across a waypoint that didn’t validate for everyone – I lost some time there. 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.”

Continuing to play catch up after losing a large chunk of time on the event’s opening stage, Toby Price rode a strong stage five, only to be penalized for speeding in a neutralization zone. The resulting six-minute penalty dropped the Aussie down to fifth place. Heading into the final stage before the rest day, Toby lies 14th overall and will be looking to gain even more time back tomorrow.

Toby Price:“Today has been a good stage, starting quite far back definitely makes things a bit easier, but today there was a bit of a dust storm, so everyone had to be on their game and focus on the roadbook. I made a couple of little errors and mistakes, but all-in-all it was a solid stage.”

After a strong start to stage five, Kevin Benavides was immediately in the hunt for the stage win, posting the fastest time to the checkpoint at kilometer 81. The reigning Dakar Champion maintained his top-four placing all the way to the final 60 kilometers, where a tricky-to-register waypoint ended up costing him, and others, some time. Despite the setback, Kevin was able to complete the stage safely in eighth place, and now also lies eighth in the provisional overall standings.

Kevin Benavides:“So day five at the Dakar went really well for me. I felt much better first thing this morning, so I was really motivated to attack. I pushed hard all day right up until the end where one waypoint proved really difficult to validate. I had arrived in a group of riders, and it worked for some, but not for the others. I lost quite a bit of time there trying to find it. After that I pushed as hard as I could over the last section of dunes to recover some time. Hopefully the organizers will look into the problem, and we get some time back.”

Another stage, and another consistently fast performance by Matthias Walkner saw the experienced Austrian claim an 11th place finish. In doing so he cemented his second-place position in the overall standings, closing the gap on the rally leader by another 30 seconds. Ready for tomorrow’s 644-kilometer stage, Walkner will be looking to complete the first week at the 2022 Dakar strongly.

Matthias Walkner:“It was a really nice day for me today. I caught Sam (Sunderland) around kilometer 90 and from there we rode together with me leading most of the way, but both of us were pushing quite hard and keeping up a good pace. There was a strange situation near the end with one waypoint that didn’t validate so easily for me. I think a few people struggled there, so the organizers will have to check the GPS. Overall, I’m happy I didn’t lose too much time and I’m becoming a lot more comfortable on the new bike. My navigation today has been good too on quite a tricky stage, so everything is going to plan.”

Provisional Results Stage Five (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally

1. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 3:23:46
2. Ross Branch (BWA), Yamaha, 3:23:48 +0:02
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHI), Honda, 3:23:51 +0:05
4. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:25:18 +1:32
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:25:32 +1:46
Other KTM
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:28:28 +8:56
11. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:31:18 +11:46

Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 5 of 12 stages

1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 19:01:50
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 19:04:19 +2:29
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 19:07:49 +5:59
4. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 19:09:51 +8:01
5. Lorenzo Santolino (ESP), Sherco, 19:17:17 +15:27
Other KTM
8. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 19:23:41 +21:51
13. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 19:39:09 +37:19

34 Comments

  1. Doc Sarvis says:

    It seems likely that the gene that made his body just slightly too large to ride a Moto GP bike that .001% quicker allows him to ride that 450 through the sand like a flaming orange Cheeto.

  2. JC says:

    I’m not surprised. Great riders, like great drivers tend to show high proficiency no matter the venue.
    Just go back a few days and watch Valentino Rossi tear up that track on a MX bike. (Yes I know, it’s his privately owned track.)

    There are other examples in Motorsports history.
    Steve McQueen
    Danny Chandler
    Travis Pastrana

    It’s fun to see and it makes everyone around them better.

    • Gary says:

      JC … I respectfully disagree. Granted there are some riders/drivers who can swap venues successfully but very few can perform at the highest levels. Rossi would get eaten alive in pro motocross. Likewise, Chandler and Pastrana in Moto GP.

      • Mick says:

        There are a number of racers who have done well in multiple disciplines. As time moves on and racers become focused on hard training for a specific discipline this happens less often. Sad really. Death of the Renaissance man.

        I was never a Rossi fan. But credit where it is due. He won on two strokes an four strokes. Last of the breed. 2022 and MotoGP is vaporware. RIP

      • JC says:

        High proficiency, not necessarily competing at the top levels. Rossi make her beat in pro MX but the pro C game guy wasn’t keeping up, and he’s a very fast rider.

        Keep in mind that the practice time and specific training would only increase their proficiency in cross disciplines.

        But, all I’m saying is that great riders tend to be great riders no matter what they ride. Not necessarily that they can routinely cross over and compete. Some do though and it’s fun to watch.

      • Dave says:

        Some disciples are more specialized than others. I’d consider motocross and woods/hare scrambles to be a very specialized skill set but I don’t know that I would classify desert/off-road as the same. While some off road experience would be absolutely necessary, the latter doesn’t require technical maneuvering skills 100%of the time the way the former does.

        You may recall that in his 3rd drive in a Formula 1 car, Rossi ran 11th (or 13th?) fastest among the complete F1 paddock in a test session. I would consider F1 driving to be an extremely specialized skill set among motor sports and Rossi figures that out remarkably fast.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      History will remember this stage win … it’s easy to predict that no MotoGP race winner will ever cross over and win a Dakar stage ever again.

    • Curt says:

      Supreme effort by Petrucci! Watching him in the preview footage, he didn’t look super comfortable (and for good reason – he’d recently had covid plus broke his foot). He’s warmed into this rally thing nicely!!!

  3. Dave says:

    This is good to hear. Crossover success for athletes usually leads to positive exposure, especially when it’s a more commercially known sport (MotoGP) in one that’s less so. The fact that he isn’t winning easily legitimizes off-road to those who don’t follow it. Very cool.

  4. GP says:

    Like enduro’s, rally races are very complicated – only even more so. The navigation is the most challenging part, and many rally crashes are probably due to the rider trying to pay close attention to their tower instrumentation while trying to maintain a race pace. Road book, route sheet, GPS, etc. This is not like SX, MX or GNCC – and definitely nothing like MotoGP. There is a lot going on in the heads of these riders. Kudos to Petrucci. I hope that we see more of him.

  5. Mick says:

    Kudos to Sherco for having a bike in the top ten. Looks like KTM is getting some marketing mileage for GasGas out of this event with GasGas colors on bikes that are currently first and third in the general standings. Hopefully not too many people are mistaking them for Hondas. Thou shalt not give the evil empire any free marketing.

    • Dave says:

      This is 4-stroke racing. Back in your hole, Mick. (I’m just kidding around, if it’s not obvious).

      • Mick says:

        Honda won it a few times with two strokes that used active radical combustion (ARC). Then they decided that they were a four stroke company. I was hoping someone else would develop ARC but no dice. I wonder what happened to the guy behind it, some genius at HRC. I was kind of hoping that he would have picked up and gone to Yamaha.

        But you are right. I haven’t had much interest in the Dakar rally since Honda killed the ARC program.

        • Jeremy says:

          ARC was an interesting concept. Almost 30% improvement in fuel economy and 50% reduction in emissions. Yoïchi Ishibashi was the brains behind the project at Honda.

          I don’t know if it went away due to something that would have made it undesirable from an end user perspective or if it was because the tech was just developed around the time Honda went all in on four strokes.

  6. Donk says:

    Super happy for him. It was like 30 days from when he got off a MotoGP bike and started the rally, amazing really. Love seeing him win and prove the naysayers wrong.

  7. My2cents says:

    Speeding exists when leaving or entering pit lane in formula one so I guess it could and should exist on open course racing, just ask the auto rally collective how ignoring the fact you’re not on a closed circuit. Retuning to page one, conversion from Moto GP to Dakar is likely very difficult and anyone this competitive in two lightly related disciplines is remarkable.

  8. RRocket says:

    Speed Control Zones exist because this isn’t a true “closed course” competition. Some of the areas traversed are used by the general population…including paved roads, dirt roads and even what locals could use as a walking trail. Some areas are also used by locals (or in this case perhaps bedouins) for livestock or general travel routes. It is for these reasons certain areas have limits that must be adhered to. These Speed Control Zones are in the GPS and warn the competitors well in advance as they approach them.

  9. Todd says:

    His rise to a MotoGP rider is a great one. I wish him the best . I think his presence in the US would be great For the sport.

  10. VLJ says:

    “Completing yesterday’s stage four as third fastest, Danilo was penalized 10 minutes for speeding.”

    Busted for speeding, during a race?

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. VLJ says:

    “Completing yesterday’s stage four as third fastest, Danilo was penalized 10 minutes for speeding.”

    Busted for speeding, during a race?

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  12. Gary says:

    That says a lot about his talent. Probably doesn’t pay as well as MotoGP, but impressive nonetheless.

  13. dt-175 says:

    didn’t he just break his leg training in december?

  14. fred says:

    I really don’t follow the Dakar, but speeding tickets during races always seems a bit strange to me.

    • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

      It makes sense when public roads are used, paved or unpaved. As such, the race organizers follow the same speed limits as the general public. This is also true in other oragnizations such as the Score Baja series. As soon as the racers exit the roads or a town center, they are free again to put the hammer down.

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