Carlos Sainz enjoyed another stage win as the 2011 Dakar Rally crossed over into Chile. In his latest blog, Carlos tells us about coping with the extreme altitude of the Andes plus how winning is not always the ideal result…
Day 5 – Jujuy to Calama (761km; timed special 207km)
Carlos wins the 20th stage of his Dakar career, 50s ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah to extend his overall lead to 4m 24s from his team-mate in second.
The day started with a very long road section with took us over the Andes at 4,800 metres above sea level. Again the Dakar brought us into some spectacular landscape. We took the Paso de Jama through the Andes to get to Chile and I think the scenery is something everybody should try to see at least once in their life.
Travelling at extreme altitude was very tiring however and it put us at some discomfort before the timed special began. The timed section of the stage was very quick. The off-road parts of the course were bumpy and very tricky because we needed to attack them at pace.
It was crucial today to avoid suffering a puncture on the gravel stages and I’m pleased that we managed that. There was some navigation work to do with the off-road section but that is something we must get used to because tomorrow things get very serious in the Atacama Desert.
At the end of the stage I was hoping that somebody had gone quicker than me so I would not have to open the stage tomorrow. Because the timed special towards Iquique is nearly 500km, I think we may end up suffering a bit.
What we must try to do is minimise any time loss tomorrow and then maybe the next day will be kinder to us. With the Dakar you can never predict these things.
In any case today was another good day with another win so I’m happy. However Stephane Peterhansel, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel De Villiers are all close and must be considered dangerous rivals.
The standings are still very close so there is no time to relax. It's good to continue in the lead but we’ve only just arrived in Chile. This is where the rally really gets going.