The journey is coming to an end at the 2021 Dakar Rally so Stage 11 was a chance to make a big move and grab some glory. The leaders in each category were out to protect their advantages, but that didn’t stop the chasing pack snapping at their heels. Let’s see who managed to shake up the rankings on the penultimate day of racing…
A Stage 11 surge from Sam Sunderland has lifted the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider to second overall ahead of the final day of the rally. The British biker went on the attack and at one point during the day he had drawn level with race leader Kevin Benavides in the general classification.
When the duo reached the finish line Sunderland had beaten Benavides on the stage by over six minutes. Sunderland starts tomorrow’s final stage a tantalising 4m12s off the lead and knowing full well that at the Dakar anything is possible.
« I knew that today was one of my last chances to try to win. I gave my all, all day. I didn’t manage to take quite enough time but I’m happy with my effort. We still have one day to go and many things can happen in one stage. » – Sam Sunderland
Also moving up the rankings of the bike race on Stage 11 was rookie Daniel Sanders. The 26-year-old has been on a steep learning curve in Saudi Arabia and has been equal to every challenge the rally has thrown at him so far. Sanders is fourth overall with one stage remaining, a podium finish is not out of the question.
« It was a really cool stage, my favourite one so far. There was lots of variety and it was really difficult. I’m in a good position on my first Dakar. I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line tomorrow. Then I can start to relax. » – Daniel Sanders
A third consecutive Top 5 stage result kept Matthias Walkner in position to help out Sunderland and Sanders on the route between Al Ula and Yanbu.
With one stage left in the bike race Štefan Svitko has broken into the Top 10, Laia Sanz is in the Top 20 overall and rookie Camille Chapelière is 23rd in the general classification.
Nasser Al-Attiyah was able to take a further two minutes out of Stéphane Peterhansel’s lead in the car race. With one stage remaining Peterhansel is protecting a 15 minute advantage at the front of the rally and is just 255km of racing away from a 14th Dakar victory (six on a bike and seven in a car, so far).
« In the middle of the dunes there were rocks, it was not easy to anticipate. Only one day to go now so we cross our fingers and hope that we can finish in first place. » – Stéphane Peterhansel
Peterhansel has held first place since Stage Two and Al-Attiyah has been in second since Stage Three. Al-Attiyah has been doing all he can to close the gap to Monsieur Dakar and has six stage wins at the rally to his name. The Qatari will have one final attempt to capture first place tomorrow.
« There’s still one stage to go and we will see what the next day brings. » – Nasser Al-Attiyah
The final spot on the podium belongs to Carlos Sainz who leads fourth place Kuba Przygoński by close to 90 minutes. Sainz got an extra blast of desert sun today when the roof of his MINI Buggy was removed during the stage.
« We hit a wire at high speed at it removed the whole roof. It was another difficult day. Everything has happened to us at this Dakar. » – Carlos Sainz
Giniel de Villiers was slowed by bent steering while Cyril Despres’ strong second week continued with another Top 5 stage result on day 11.
« It was hard, physical and demanding. This is the type of racing we are here to do. » – Cyril Despres
Rookie Seth Quintero is determined to finish his Dakar on a high and a stage win on day 11 will help him in that mission. The 18-year-old took control of the Lightweight Vehicles race before the midway point of the timed special and finished the stage 12 minutes quicker than anybody else in the category.
« Today went absolutely amazing. Our plan was to pick cars off all day and run smooth and that’s exactly what we did. We end up as the first over the line and the first on time. It blows my mind how well this Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team works. » – Seth Quintero
Chaleco López retains his overall lead in the Lightweight Vehicles category and is the only other driver in the race – alongside Quintero – to have more than one stage win at this Dakar.
« Now we are near the end so I have to think about the overall. We did a good job today. » – Chaleco López
Cristina Gutiérrez, a team-mate of Quintero in the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team, completed another solid stage in the Dakar Experience. Debutant Mattias Ekström is also approaching the Jeddah finish line in the Dakar Experience.
« For me this was by far the best stage of the rally. The nature with the mixture of dunes and stones, I really liked it. » – Mattias Ekström
Dmitry Sotnikov may have finished outside of the Top 3 for the first time on a stage at the 2021 Dakar today, but it hasn’t changed much at the top of truck race. Sotnikov is set to celebrate his first ever Dakar victory in Jeddah tomorrow, his lead over second placed Anton Shibalov is 39m58s. It’s a third Kamaz driver, Ayrat Mardeev, who occupies the final podium spot making it a clean sweep for the Russian truckers.
The fourth Kamaz truck, driven by Andrey Karginov has been supporting his team-mates all the way.
« We finished the way we started. We completed the task for the stage – to backup three of our crews, to provide assistance, if necessary. » – Andrey Karginov
The 2021 Dakar concludes tomorrow as Stage 12 brings the convoy back to Jeddah. Within the 225km timed special stage is a chain of dunes that could yet provide one final dose of drama at the desert classic.
STAGE 11 RESULTS & OVERALLS
Stage 11 Top 5
1. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) – Toyota, 04:34:24
2. S. Peterhansel (FRA) – Mini, +00:01:56
3. C. Sainz (ESP) – Mini, +00:02:26
4. Y. Al Rajhi (SAU) – Toyota, +00:04:02
5. C. Despres (FRA) – Peugeot, +00:08:31…
Overall Top 5
1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) – Buggy Mini, 42:09:26
2. N. Al-Attiyah (QAT) – Toyota, +00:15:05
3. C. Sainz (ESP) – Buggy Mini, +01:04:14
4. J. Przygonski (POL) – Toyota, +02:32:24
5. N. Roma (ESP) – BRX Prodrive, +03:15:54…
Stage 11 Top 5
1. S. Sunderland (GBR) – KTM, 04:35:12
2. P. Quintanilla (CHL) – Husqvarna, +00:02:40
3. K. Benavides (ARG) – Honda, +00:06:24
4. D. Sanders (AUS) – KTM, +00:08:34
5. M. Walkner (AUT) – KTM, +00:09:27…
1. K. Benavides (ARG) – Honda, 45:01:44
2. S. Sunderland (GBR) – KTM, +00:04:12
3. R. Brabec (USA) – Honda, +00:07:13
4. D. Sanders (AUS) – KTM, +00:33:05
5. S. Howes (USA) – KTM, +00:49:07…
Stage 11 Top 5
1. S. Quintero (USA) – OT3, 04:58:17
2. F. Lopez (CHL – CAN-AM, +00:12:13
3. G. Farres (ESP) – CAN-AM, +00:17:34
4. K. Al-Attiyah (QAT) – CAN-AM, +00:17:41
5. K. Meeke (GBR) – PH-Sport, +00:18:00
Overall Top 5
1. F. Lopez (CHL – CAN-AM, 50:49:48
2. A. Jones (USA) – CAN-AM, +00:18:24
3. A. Domzala (POL) – CAN-AM, +00:54:16
4. M. Goczal (POL) – CAN-AM, +01:21:18
5. R. Varella (BRA) – CAN-AM, +01:36:07…
Stage 11 Top 5
1. A. Shibanov (RUS) – Kamaz, 04:46:38
2. A. Mardeev (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:04:13
3. A. Vishneuski (BLR) – MAZ, +00:04:53
4. A. Karginov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:06:13
5. D. Sotnikov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:07:24…
Overall Top 5
1. D. Sotnikov (RUS) – Kamaz, 45:51:33
2. A. Shibalov (RUS) – Kamaz, +00:39:58
3. A. Mardeev (RUS) – Kamaz, +01:11:30
4. M. Macik (CZE) – Iveco, +01:47:48
5. A. Loprais (CZE) – Praga, +01:54:08…
Sam Sunderland: « I knew that today was one of my last chances to try to win. I gave my all, all day. The boys up front did a great job. I can’t be sad because I gave everything I had and tried my best. I didn’t manage to take quite enough time but I’m happy with my effort. We still have one day to go and many things can happen in one stage. It was another tough day today at what has been a super tough Dakar. I’m grateful to all the team and to everyone who put all the work in. »
Daniel Sanders: « I started really good this morning with my navigation and I’d made up a lot of time at the first refuel. After that I was in the dust and I started making some little mistakes. I had pressure behind me but I needed to put the roadbook first. Sam caught up to us and I followed him in the dunes for a little bit. The last part had some really tricky navigation. It was a really cool stage, my favourite one so far. There was lots of variety and it was really difficult. I’m in a good position on my first Dakar. I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line tomorrow. Then I can start to relax. »
Stéphane Peterhansel: « We were promised a complicated stage and that is what we got today. The navigation was not easy and we got two punctures. One of the punctures was in the dunes so that was strange. In the middle of the dunes there were rocks, it was not easy to anticipate. Only one day to go now so we cross our fingers and hope that we can finish in first place. »
Nasser Al-Attiyah: « I’m really happy to be here on day 11 without any technical problems with the car. There’s still one stage to go and we will see what the next day brings. »
Carlos Sainz: « We hit a wire at high speed at it removed the whole roof. It was another difficult day. Two punctures and difficult navigation. We had no more spare tyres so we had to go slow. Everything has happened to us at this Dakar. »
Giniel de Villiers: « Our steering is bent. I’m not sure what I bent, but something is bent. There were rocks in the dunes. You came up over the dunes and then there were rocks, it was really dangerous. You can’t physically see them. I hit one with the left wheel and the next one I nearly got stuck on top of. Luckily the Hilux is very strong and we made it to the finish. »
Kuba Przygoński: « It was so hard to see the stones after the dunes. One rock we hit and the car almost rolled. In the end we are here. The car is in one piece and for this we are happy. It was a tough, tough stage. »
Cyril Despres: « I was five hours working behind the steering wheel today. Right, left, right, left, right, left. It was a real stage that we enjoyed. It was hard, physical and demanding. This is the type of racing we are here to do. »
Laia Sanz: « It was a long and tough day, also very dusty. I struggled a lot at the beginning to pass the guys in front of me. I did my best and I’m happy to finish another day at this Dakar. »
Seth Quintero: « Today went absolutely amazing. Our plan was to pick cars off all day and run smooth and that’s exactly what we did. We end up as the first over the line and the first on time. It blows my mind how well this Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team works. The last two days have been really rough. We didn’t get back from Stage Nine until four in the morning. Then we had to charge the next day to try and get to the finish. Now here we are on Stage 11 with stage win number two. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. We’re going to charge hard again tomorrow. »
Chaleco López: « In the first kilometres we broke one tyre in a river. It was a very fast stage and the navigation was tough. Now we are near the end so I have to think about the overall. We did a good job today. »
Cristina Gutiérrez: « It was a good day for us today. It was difficult because we started at the back of the race. We hit a lot of dust and it was difficult to overtake in the rocky zones. I’m happy with how I drove and also with the navigation of Francois. »
Mattias Ekström: « For me this was by far the best stage of the rally. The nature with the mixture of dunes and stones, I really liked it. We lost some time in the morning in the dust but from the midway stage we had a clean run. »
Andrey Karginov: « We finished the way we started. We completed the task for the stage – to backup three of our crews, to provide assistance, if necessary. »