Kevin Benavides and Stephane Peterhansel are still on top of the 2021 Dakar Rally standings in the motorcycle and car classes, but they’ll still need to be on their A game for tomorrow’s final stage to bring home the victories after Sam Sunderland and Nasser Al-Attiyah scored victories in Stage 11 from Al Ula to Yanbu today. Sunderland sits just over four minutes behind Benavides for the overall lead, passing defending champion Ricky Brabec with today’s stage victory, while Al-Attiyah shaved Peterhansel’s overall lead by another two minutes with his fifth stage win of the year, equaling a career best.
In fact, second in class seemed to be the lucky spot almost across the board for stage winners today, with Giovanni Enrico doing the same in quads and Anton Shibalov also winning in the truck class. While Manuel Andujar remains almost 26 minutes up in the former division and Dmitry Sotnikov is still checked out in the latter at nearly 40 minutes up, the stage wins nonetheless give Enrico and Shibalov something to celebrate on the way to likely Dakar podiums.
Two days after a crushing mechanical issue ended Seth Quintero’s hopes of winning both the T3 lightweight prototype and overall lightweight vehicle divisions in his first Dakar, the 18-year-old Californian struck back today with a dominant victory. Quintero was more than 12 minutes clear of his closest T4 SSV competition, overall leader Chaleco Lopez, and more than 18 minutes ahead of WRC veteran Kris Meeke in T3 after a thrilling battle between the two earlier on. American Austin Jones remains second overall behind Lopez, but gave up another eight minutes to Lopez today as the fourth place finisher in T4 and fifth among all UTVs.
Dropping out of the Dakar with one stage to go is always heartbreaking, but a number of competitors suffered that fate today. Joan Barreda Bort dropped out of the motorcycle running after missing the refueling point and later requesting medical attention, while quad runner-up Alexandre Giroud suffered an engine failure. Meanwhile, SSV competitor Ricardo Ramilo and navigator Xavier Blanco had a heated argument on stage, which led to Blanco abandoning Ramilo 170 kilometers into the stage; Blanco was picked up by a member of the team, while Ramilo, who had entered the day 43rd overall, had not yet registered a stage finish at press time.
Finally, after Marc Douton dominated the early stages of the Dakar Classic, the second half of the rally has led to some variation in stage winners. Stephan Lamarre won today’s stage to become the fourth different winner in five days since the rest day. Douton still dominates the overall standings with a 1574-point advantage over Juan Donatiu.
The 2021 Dakar Rally wraps up on Friday as racers return from Yanbu to Jeddah in a 447-kilometer journey that includes 200 kilometers of timed stage. Coverage of today’s stage airs on NBCSN at 9PM ET/6PM PT.
2021 Dakar Rally Stage 11 Winners
- Motorcycle: Sam Sunderland, 4:35:12
- Quad: Giovanni Enrico, 6:21:16
- Car: Nasser Al-Attiyah, 4:34:24
- Lightweight Prototype: Seth Quintero, 4:58:17
- SSV: Chaleco Lopez, 5:10:30
- Truck: Anton Shibalov, 4:46:38
- Classic: Stephan Lamarre, 38 points
2021 Dakar Rally Overall Rankings
|1st||K. Benavides||M. Andujar||S. Peterhansel||F. Lopez Contardo||D. Sotnikov|
|2nd||S. Sunderland||G. Enrico||N. Al-Attiyah||A. Jones||A. Shibalov|
|3rd||R. Brabec||P. Copetti||C. Sainz||A. Domzala||A. Mardeev|
|4th||D. Sanders||K. Wisniewski||J. Przygonski||M. Goczal||M. Macik|
|5th||S. Howes||T. Kubiena||N. Roma||R. Varela||A. Loprais|