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Longest Dakar stage underway

Stage five of the 2014 Dakar Rally spans a mammoth 912 kilometres.

South African Dakar hopeful Riaan Van Niekerk is riding for the KTM Factory team. Picture: Derek Alberts/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Sand, heat and no tracks to follow await. Stage Five of the Dakar Rally is currently underway.

Today's route will see the drivers and riders tackle the longest stage of this year's rally, traversing a mammoth 912 kilometres from Chilecito to San Miguel de Tucuman.

The last two race days have seen the cars, trucks, bikes and quads negotiating separate routes, but day five will have all competitors on the same route that will primarily feature sand. The riders and drivers face searing heat, tricky off-piste sections, and the real threat of mechanical failure after the exploits of yesterday's first marathon stage.

Speaking ahead of the stage, Toyota Imperial driver Giniel De Villiers said some testing times lay ahead.

"I think it's going to be quite tricky. There are some dunes in the beginning again. We're not quite sure because we haven't been there yet and we'll have to see when we get there. There are a couple of very long days ahead, especially after a rest day. There's still a long way to go."

Yesterday stage four was a disappointment for the Toyota Imperial Team as very little went right for de Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewits. Proceedings fared even worse for Leeroy Poulter and Rob Howie.

De Villiers and Zitzewits finished the stage in seventh place after suffering from steering problems, retaining sixth place on the overall standings. Poulter and Howie dropped to 29th overall as a result of their 69th stage finish. Thomas Rundle and Juan Mohr finished 18th, putting them 20th overall.

The cars class was won by Carlos Sainz, who grabbed the overall lead ahead of Nani Roma and Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In the bikes, the stage was won by Pedro Garcia with overall leader Joan Barredo Bort crossing the line in sixth place. Bort still retains the overall lead.

South Africa's Brett Cummings finished in 29th place, while Riaan Van Niekerk got lost and finished 69th, dropping to 22th overall.

For full coverage of the 2014 Dakar Rally click here