Santosh, Oriol Mena of Hero MotoSports continue good show at Dakar Rally

CS Santosh of Hero Moto Sports n action during the start of the fourth stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally which involved a mass start at the beachfront before the riders hit the dunes

Kevin Benavides finished third in Stage 5, giving himself a shot at the overall lead. Siarhei Viazovich is the best of the rest in the third spot in the general standings. Red Bull KTM's Matthias Walkner remains third with a 2m50s gap to new leader Benavides. Aravind was also unable to complete the Dakar Rally in 2017 when he debuted with the Sherco TVS team after suffering two crashes.

Though hampered by a nagging wrist injury, the Spaniard was aggressive from the start, determined to gain ground after a crash forced defending champion Sam Sunderland to abandon the race on Tuesday.

While competitors put the rigors of the Peruvian desert behind them with the end of Wednesday's stage, they will now have to contend with the challenge of high altitude in Bolivia.

With 8 stages to go, the 2018 Dakar rally will move from La Paz to Uyuni on January 13.

Santosh made a decision to play it safe and steady as the rally neared the halfway mark to finish the stage at 52nd position.

"It was a really hard day". I was feeling a bit exhausted in the morning as I didn't have a good sleep, so it took me a little time to get going in the stage.

The next stage will see the rally moving to Arequipa where competitors will tackle the sands of Tanaka and a 30 or so km of mountain dune sections making up the longest stage yet, with 774 km to be covered including the liaison. "There was a lot of sand dunes again, and the first special was really good for me with a lot of tracks to follow".

"We did not have dust today so I knew it was my best chance to pass a few guys and I tried to make the most of the opportunity".

The competitors will now get a much deserved rest day before the second leg of the rally kicks off.

It has been an impressive start for the team upto the end of the first half of the rally, with two very good stages from Santosh, followed by a couple of hard ones and a positive progress of Dakar rookie Mena, especially in the really tough stage 5. Yong is 23rd overall and He 42nd.

Stage 5 was a rough one for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla, who was hampered by motorcycle issues. Aravind is now being brought to La Paz, Bolivia, for further treatment.

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