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Goncalves continues to press forward

Storming through: Paulo Goncalves delivered a back-to-back top-10 finish for Hero MotoSports.

Storming through: Paulo Goncalves delivered a back-to-back top-10 finish for Hero MotoSports.  

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Buhler maintains his top-20 position; Santosh at 39th spot overall

Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s Paulo Goncalves appeared supremely confident at the start of the Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally here on Thursday, under tough conditions including temperatures ranging around two degree Celsius in the morning.

The 36-year-old from Portugal justified his confidence as he went on to record a fine show to finish 10th. His mates, Sebastian Buhler and C.S. Santosh, did equally well to complete the race in 21st and 37th respectively.

Hero consolidates

In fact, Hero consolidated its showing from the previous stage to keep it steady before the rally halts in Riyadh on January 11 for a rest day.

Stage 5 was a special phase covering 353km from Al Ula to Ha’il and tested the competitors.

Goncalves continued to press forward today as well and delivered a back-to-back top-10 finish for the team with the 10th spot. Goncalves climbed several positions for the second day in-a-row to finish 59th overall.

Buhler maintained his top-20 position to reach 19th and Santosh rose a few ranks to break into the top-40 at 39th place in the overall rankings. With just one more stage to go and the complexion changing from being technical to wide-open desert, Friday is expected to see more competitors trying to push hard in tackling the longest stage with 830km to be done.

Calmness helped

Goncalves said his calmness helped him do well. “Today there was change in the scenery from the trials and stony tracks of the last 3-4 days to the more open desert. In the first part of the stage, I tried to push hard and rode well. After the refuelling, there was 200km of open off-piste stage that could be fast but dangerous as well. So I decided to slow my pace a bit to avoid crashes.”

Buhler said his only focus to avoid mistakes: “It was a hard stage and we had almost 200km in the off-piste towards the end. I tried not to go too fast to avoid making any mistakes.”

Santosh sounded upbeat. “What an amazing last two days it has been... tough but incredible. I really enjoyed riding the stage and am feeling more confident.”

The placings (provisional): Stage 5: 10. Paulo Goncalves; 21. Sebastian Buhler; 37. C.S. Santosh. Overall: 18. Buhler; 39. Santosh; 59. Goncalves.

(The writer is in Saudi Arabia on the invitation of Hero MotoCorp)

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:43:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/goncalves-continues-to-press-forward/article30526381.ece

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