Date: Thursday 14th January
Location: AlUla > Yanbu
Distance: 134km liaison + 464km special
The penultimate stage of the 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally saw the competitors leave the rocky landscapes of AlUla for the port city of Yanbu. It was all to play for with Nasser Al-Attiyah closing the gap to Stephane Peterhansel and Sam Sunderland taking the win for KTM in the bikes.
Nasser Al-Attiyah was right on the pace through today’s stage in an attempt to cut the gap to overall leader Peterhansel by a significant margin. Even though Al-Attiyah dropped off the pace mid-stage after suffering from punctures, but the Qatari ensured he kept up enough speed to come through and take the stage win by a small one-and-a-half minutes to Peterhansel.
X-Raid Mini JCW Team driver Peterhansel suffered from two punctures over the 464 kilometre stage, with one occurring in the middle of the dunes. The Frenchman then got lost and forfeited precious minutes which ate into his fifteen minute advantage over Al-Attiyah in the overall standings.
Yazeed Al Rajhi opened the stage, and with this there is always the risk of losing an ample amount of time. Overdrive Toyota’s Al Rajhi inevitably lost time and completed the stage fourth in the order, but only three-and-a-half minutes adrift of winner Al-Attiyah.
Carlos Sainz finished stage ten a minute ahead of Al Rajhi, in third place. Sainz had started the stage off well, pushing hard in the opening waypoints, however as the stage went on the Spaniard lost out as the kilometres counted down. It became a standard affair for the X-Raid Mini JCW Team driver as he attended punctures and ran out of spares meaning he had to be easy to the line.
Sheik Khalid Al Qassimi had what was seemingly his best run of the whole of the 2021 rally, going third for the entire stage with two way points to go to the line, it was here where he slipping down the ranks to eighth.
- Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 04:32:09s
- Stephane Peterhansel / Edouard Boulanger – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 04:33:39s
- Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 04:34:45s
Overall classification after Stage 10:
- Stephane Peterhansel / Edouard Boulanger – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 42:06:45s
- Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 42:22:16s
- Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 43:11:35s
Sam Sunderland powered through the eleventh stage of the competition to try and make up the ten minute deficit he had on leader Kevin Benavides with the eventual stage win to add to his tally. It was the Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider’s first stage win this year after a consistent run of fourth place and lower up until today. His win has moved him up to second in the overall standings, but he still remains six minutes off Benavides despite cutting the gap by four minutes.
Ricky Brabec lost a chunk of time, having opened the stage. He finished the stage in sixth place, eleven minutes down on winner Sunderland. Brabec has now slipped down to third overall with only two minutes separating him from rival Sunderland up ahead.
It was curtains for Joan Barreda, in the most devastating way possible. Barreda had been carrying a head injury from a previous knock earlier in the week and the effects of this came to fruition on stage eleven. Barreda had been on course to equal his best finish on the rally so far, fifth place, but after missing the refuelling stop, he came juddering to a halt at around the 267 kilometre mark. It had been suspected that the head injury had contributed to the error. Barreda was then airlifted by medics to Yanbu for examination, where it was found he had been suffering from concussion. He is now out of the event for the fifth time in his Dakar career.
Rookie Daniel Sanders had encountered some tricky navigation through the 464 kilometre test, which lost him some time, however he posted the fourth fastest time and retained fourth overall on his maiden outing on the Dakar.
It comes as no surprise that Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez completed today’s stage and remained at the head of the Lightweight standings. Lopez leads from Austin Jones, with just ten minutes separating the pair with one special to go tomorrow.
Jones had attempted to make up ground over the special stage but ended up losing time rather than gaining, to place sixth at the finish line.
Seth Quintero was on fire today, and led at every waypoint of the stage apart from the first one to claim the stage win with a gap of nearly twelve minutes to Lopez.
Britain’s Kris Meeke, amongst all the misfortune and 80 broken drive belts, has had occasions where he was flying through the stage and today was one of them. But to keep with tradition, Meeke was met with a puncture and had to stop on stage. In spite of this, he finished 20 minutes down on Lopez in fifth place, which is his second best result of this year’s rally raid.
Dmitry Sotnikov may have finished for the first time outside of the podium, in fourth place but this is not stopping the Russian from being on course to his first win with Kamaz. Sotnikov leads the trucks by forty minutes.
It was his team-mate Anton Shibalov who took the stage eleven honours, clearing Airat Mardeev by nearly four minutes. Aliaksei Vishneuski put a stop to the run of Kamaz 1-2-3’s placing his Maz-Sportauto 6440RR in the third and final podium position.
Martin Macik opened the way for the trucks, but soon befell the winner’s curse, losing time and finishing seven minutes behind Shibalov, in fifth place. Macik is on course to claim the fourth spot overall.
Ales Loprais slipped to fifth overall after losing time, finishing the stage in eighth.
- Sam Sunderland – Red Bull KTM Factory Team – 04:33:18s
- Pablo Quintanilla – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing – 04:35:53s
- Kevin Benavides – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 04:38:47s
Overall after stage 11:
- Kevin Benavides – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 44:58:02s
- Sam Sunderland – Red Bull KTM Factory Team – 45:04:02s
- Ricky Brabec – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 45:06:08s
- Seth Quintero – Red Bull Off-Road Team USA – 04:56:18s
- Francisco Lopez Contardo / Juan Pablo Latrach Vinagre – South Racing Can-Am – 05:08:03s
- Gerard Farres Guell / Armand Monleon – Monster Energy Cam-Am – 05:13:27s
Overall after stage 11:
- Francisco Lopez Contardo / Juan Pablo Latrach Vinagre – South Racing Can-Am – 50:47:21s
- Austin Jones / Gustavo Gugelmin – Monster Energy Can-Am – 51:06:07s
- Aron Domzala / Maciej Marton – Monster Energy Can-Am – 51:41:52s
- Anton Shibalov / Dmitrii Nikitin / Ivan Tatarinov – Kamaz-Master – 04:44:39s
- Airat Mardeev / Dmitriy Svistunov / Akhmet Galiautdinov – Kamaz Master – 04:48:31s
- Aliaksei Vishneuski / Maksim Novikau / Siarhei Sachuk – Maz-Sportauto – 04:48:48s
Overall after stage 11:
- Dmitry Sotnikov / Ruslan Akhmadeev / Ilgiz Akhmetzianov – Kamaz-Master – 45:48:50s
- Anton Shibalov / Dmitrii Nikitin / Ivan Tatarinov – Kamaz-Master – 46:29:32s
- Airat Mardeev / Dmitriy Svistunov / Akhmet Galiautdinov – Kamaz Master – 47:00:43s