Super Fiambalá stage raises the temperature at 2018 Dakar Rally

Toby Price © Red Bull

The 2018 Dakar Rally took a big step towards the finish line in Córdoba as the convoy crossed the Super Fiambalá stage. Some race leaders lost their position while there were plenty of late attacks for further podium places. And spare a thought for the bikers who have reached the midway point of their second marathon stage of this Dakar.

 

Yesterday Toby Price (AUS) suffered a major dent to his hopes of regaining the Dakar crown he won in 2016, but he bounced back today with a dominate stage win. It was the Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider’s first stage win of this Dakar as he looks to salvage a podium finish from a tough race.

“We had a 280-kilometre special and after the cars and bikes in front had gone through the sand was really soft in places. It wasn’t the easiest day that’s for sure.” – Toby Price

Price’s KTM team-mates Antoine Méo (FRA) and Matthias Walkner (AUT) also enjoyed good days. Méo was third on the stage despite crashing near the finish while Walkner was fifth and continues to hold a 32-minute advantage over Kevin Benavides (ARG) in second place. Price is now third overall following today’s retirement of Joan Barreda (ESP) and the Australian will continue to push himself up the podium places.

“Every day can change everything. I have to stay focused day after day. I don’t think so much about victory.” – Matthias Walkner

Also enjoying a boost up the rankings today was Laia Sanz (ESP) with 17th place on the stage elevating her to 12th overall. With three days of racing remaining Sanz has a shot to beat her best ever Dakar finish of 9th in 2015.

In the car race the stage win went to Bernhard Ten Brinke (NLD) who led home the three Peugeot 3008DKR Maxis left in the race by over four minutes. Cyril Despres (FRA) was second on the stage, even with a puncture to deal with, and race leader Carlos Sainz (ESP) finished third.

“Fiambalá is a classic Dakar special. This is where I lost the Dakar in 2009. I started the stage with a margin of 30 minutes and ended up in a hole, so it’s great to put it behind me.” – Carlos Sainz

The next four fastest drivers home were Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) and Kuba Przygonski (POL). There was little change to the general car classification with Sainz’s lead over second place Peterhansel remaining at over 50 minutes. Al-Attiyah’s push forward was dampened by suffering two punctures.

“Fiambalá is a special place and it’s now the capital of Dakar in Argentina. It’s always tough here and the sand is really tricky.” – Cyril Despres

There was pressure applied to quad bike category leader since stage one Ignacio Casale (CHI) on the route to Chilecito. Argentinian rookie Nicolás Cavigliasso (ARG) has jumped into second overall and brought Casale’s overall lead down to around 90 minutes for the first time in a week.

The lead that did change hands on the Super Fiambalá stage was in the truck division. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) had seemed in total control of his category at the Rest Day but during the second week he has conceded his lead to Federico Villagra (ARG). The Iveco trucker now leads his Team Kamaz Master counterpart by over 16 minutes with stages running out at the 2018 Dakar.

Tomorrow sees the Dakar convoy move onto it’s penultimate bivouac as the competition transfers to San Juan. The bikes have the second half of their marathon stage to deal with as they join the quads on a 288km timed special. For the cars and trucks it’s a mammoth 523km against the clock with the navigation challenges as tough as ever.

Top 3 Results
Overall standings after stage 11 – Cars
1. CARLOS SAINZ (ESP) PEUGEOT 36:16:27
2. STEPHANE PETERHANSEL (FRA) PEUGEOT +01:00:45
3. NASSER AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) TOYOTA +01:24:02

Overall standings after stage 11 – Bikes
1. MATTHIAS WALKNER (AUT) KTM 36:33:37
2. KEVIN BENAVIDES (ARG) HONDA +00:32:00
3. TOBY PRICE (AUS) KTM +00:39:17

Overall standings after stage 11 – Quads
1. IGNACIO CASALE (CHI) YAMAHA 46:04:20
2. NICOLAS CAVIGLIASSO (ARG) YAMAHA +01:34:13
3. JEREMIAS GONZALEZ FERIOLI (ARG) YAMAHA +02:09:15

Overall standings after stage 11 – Trucks
1. FEDERICO VILLAGRA (ARG) IVECO 39:49:27
2. EDUARD NIKOLAEV (RUS) KAMAZ +00:16:07
3. SIARHEI VIAZOVICH (BLR) MAZ   +03:22:22

Quotes
Toby Price: “We started off the day really well today. We had a 280-kilometre special and after the cars and bikes in front had gone through the sand was really soft in places. It wasn’t the easiest day that’s for sure. By the end the heat started to get to us a little bit. That meant that for the last 30 kilometres or so I was just cruising along. The bike’s in good shape and we’re feeling good so it’s a good day.”

Matthias Walkner: “I spent most of the time with Stéphane Peterhansel today. I passed him on the dunes, but on the fast bits he passed me. Every day can change everything. I have to stay focused day after day. I don’t think so much about victory. Of course, I’m a little bit nervous. Just missing one waypoint can cost you 20 minutes. Keeping going and doing my best is all I can do.”

Carlos Sainz: “Fiambalá is a classic Dakar special. This is where I lost the Dakar in 2009. I started the stage with a margin of 30 minutes and ended up in a hole, so it’s great to put it behind me. We need to keep it up, day after day. Staying on Stéphane’s track was key today.”

Cyril Despres: “Fiambalá is a special place and it’s now the capital of Dakar in Argentina. It’s always tough here and the sand is really tricky. The mountain is covered by sand and in this altitude it’s not so easy to climb in the car. This is a place were lots can happen so to get all three of our cars through without a problem is good for us.”

Stéphane Peterhansel: “We took a big jump over a dune – our first big jump of the rally – which shook us around a bit. As a result, our backs are somewhat sore…I think I’ve got a vertebra missing! The car’s steering was also affected by the impact. As we were first on the road, navigation was tricky. We drove together with the first motorbike to try and find the way. I have to say that our BF Goodrich tyres have been really strong. When I look at the speeds with which we drive through the thorny sections, it’s incredible that we don’t get any punctures.”

Christina Gaither,

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