After his win on day 10, Toby Price had the unenviable task of opening the penultimate and extremely tough Stage 11 of the 2022 Dakar Rally. The stage win had left him sitting sixth overall, with a 28 min gap to the overall lead, however today’s stage only saw that gap widen, almost doubling.
Stage 11 featured the loop to the Bisha bivouac, featuring a total of 346 kilometres of timed section out of the 501-kilometre total stage with 155 kilometres of liaison sections.
An issue early on where a waypoint didn’t validate correctly for the Australian put him on the back foot for the rest of the special. However, using his skill and speed, the twice Dakar Champion was able to regroup and keep pushing through the arduous terrain. Ultimately completing the stage in 28th, Toby now lies 10th in the overall standings with one day left to race.
Toby Price – P28
“It was super dusty today and navigation was tough, but I had a frustrating problem early on at kilometre four where one waypoint didn’t validate, even though I’m pretty sure I was in the right place. I had to zig-zag back and forward and thankfully in the end, even though I was on the same track, it activated. Hopefully we can have that checked, but other than that the day went ok, I felt good on the bike and arrived safely at the finish line. One more day to go tomorrow, and that will be the 2022 Dakar complete.”
Kevin Benavides wins Stage 11
After a disappointing stage 10 yesterday in which his 2022 Dakar hopes came to an end, Kevin Benavides bounced back in style, showing impressive speed to top today’s results. Putting in an incredible performance, the number one plate holder fought his way from a late, 33rd place start to ultimately win the stage by a narrow four seconds. Benavides will now lead out the event’s short, final 164-kilometre timed special on Friday’s stage 12.
Kevin Benavides – P1
“It was a really demanding day today. It’s great to get the win but I’m full of emotion because of the issue I had yesterday. Up to that point I was fighting for the overall, and now, after going fastest today I know I would have been in with a chance to win the rally. I gave it my all today, mostly to prove to myself that I could do it. I think it’s important to be able to come back from disappointment and immediately fight for a stage win. I have to thank the whole team, but especially my mechanic who worked so hard last night to give me an amazing bike for today – it felt perfect on the stage. I will now have the pleasure of opening the last stage of the race with no pressure, so I’m really looking forward to it and reaching the finish.”
After losing a little time yesterday, the pressure was well and truly on Sam Sunderland today, who in no uncertain terms needed to deliver a flawless ride to keep his chances of a second Dakar win alive. And that’s exactly what he did. Putting together a standout performance, Sam navigated perfectly, attacked from the start, and finished second on the stage, just four seconds behind the eventual winner. Now, with just one day of racing to go, the GASGAS Factory Racing ace sits at the top of the leaderboard with a near seven-minute advantage over his nearest rival.
“Today was a really tough one. We were expecting it to be difficult and even four kilometres in there were lines everywhere in the sand. From there on I had to focus on myself and stay on top of my roadbook, it wasn’t really an option to follow the lines ahead. Through the dunes I was able to make up some time, which was good and I just missed out on another stage win. Up until now the race has gone really well, the whole team behind me has been fantastic but the race isn’t over until it’s over. All I can do is hope for a clean run through tomorrow’s stage and then we’ll see where we end up.”
Hero Motosports’s Joaquim Rodrigues picked up the third place position, 2m26 off the stage leader Benavides.
Joaquim Rodrigues – P3
“A much better day than yesterday! Yesterday was a emotional day where I wasn’t strong enough to control my emotions, but today luckily all came together and we did a good performance! Thank you team for all the support on my bad days.”
Well in the fight for the overall rally honors, Matthias Walkner had to ensure he delivered a strong stage result today with the minimum of mistakes to stay in contention for the 2022 title. Fastest to the first checkpoint, Walkner navigated superbly through the remainder of the special to complete the stage in fourth place, just under five minutes down on teammate Benavides. Moving up to third overall in the event standings, Matthias will be aiming to reduce the gap to the current leader during tomorrow’s stage and secure a podium position while also fighting for the rally win.
Matthias Walkner – P4
“It was a really long and really fast stage today. It was very dusty this morning too, which made the navigation even more difficult. I made a few small mistakes, but I really did try my best all day pushing as hard as I could. Finally I was able to make the finish with a good time and it puts me in a good position for tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens.”
Ricky Brabec was the best-placed Monster Energy Honda Team rider on the day. The American finished in fifth place, moving up into six place overall, a position which he hopes to consolidate tomorrow. Brabec finished just one place ahead of team-mate Pablo Quintanilla. Pablo, sixth, performed well today – well enough to be in contention tomorrow and could improve on his current second place in this 2022 Dakar. The Chilean biker is less than seven minutes behind the overall race leader. If the full length of the final special stage goes ahead as planned tomorrow, the rider could well spring a surprise and stand a chance of scooping the world’s toughest rally.
Ricky Brabec – P5
“This year’s Dakar has been difficult for me personally, to get back into the fight after a bad start. The team didn’t let us down, so we can’t let them down…. We have tried very hard to do our best and give it our all. On this stage 11 we tried very hard to do a good job; I would have liked to make up a lot more time than I did. I’m happy with the way I’m riding and I’m happy with the team, I’ve learned a lot. Our team-mate Pablo can do it tomorrow. Unfortunately, I heard that the stage will be shortened, which in my opinion is unfair.”
Pablo Quintanilla – P6
“It was a difficult stage. One of the hardest we’ve done on this Dakar, with a lot of wind, with sectors of very soft dunes. It was very difficult to make progress. I tried to push as hard as I could from the first kilometre; it wasn’t easy. I really let rip but without losing my concentration. In the end, it was a good day, I gave 100% and I think that’s what’s important, that I gave my best every day. There is still one day left and the race is not over until you cross the finish-line. Tomorrow we will attack again from the first kilometre.”
Chilean José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo also had a good day in spite of a minor mistake in the opening kilometres of the special. Today’s seventh place also puts him into the same position in the general rankings.
José Ignacio Cornejo – P7
“It was a good stage; not the best, but not the worst either. I made a small mistake at the start, where I lost a few minutes. Mathias passed me and we ended up riding together until the end. I think it was a solid stage. We also moved up in the overall standings, which makes me happy because we have managed to overcome a bad first stage. We are not where we wanted to be. Tomorrow the rally will be over, so we will draw our conclusions afterwards.”
Posting his eighth top-10 stage result at the 2022 Dakar Rally, Andrew Short would complete the physically demanding stage 11 in eighth place. Should the American ride with the same form tomorrow that he’s demonstrated throughout week two, a sixth-place overall finish is a strong possibility for Andrew.
Andrew Short – P8
“It was a really tough day, by far the toughest in terms of riding and the physical side of things. Plus, the navigation was pretty hard early on and after four kilometres there was a lot of riders stopped to figure things out. But after that I did a pretty good job of opening and minimising the damage. I rode with Adrien a lot today, which was pretty cool and now we’re really close to the finish. Getting across the finish line was the goal from the start and we’re close now, so it’s exciting that we’re almost there.”
Along with many riders who struggled to validate a waypoint early on stage 11, Adrien Van Beveren lost close to 10 minutes to the overall rally leaders just four kilometres into the timed special. But without losing his focus, the Frenchman soon returned to the main racing line and began to reel in the leading riders. Continuing his charge, the Yamaha WR450F Rally racer then opened the final 60 kilometres of the special, navigating with precision and completing the stage in 15th. The penultimate day of the Dakar Rally 2022 was a frustrating day for Van Beveren, who is now fourth in the overall provisional classification.
Adrien Van Beveren – P15
“It was a hard one today. Just four kilometres in I struggled to validate a waypoint and it easily cost me 10 minutes. It was a frustrating start to the stage but then I really pushed hard, harder than at any time in the rally so far. I caught the leading group of riders with around 60 kilometres to go and then just kept pushing hard. The gap to the lead is big now, but I will fight to the end.”
The conditions were not ideal for Joan Barreda who struggled to make progress in the soft dunes of Bisha. With a fall included, the Spaniard finished sixteenth in RallyGP and is fifth in the general standings, nearly half an hour behind the race leader.
Joan Barreda – P16
“Today was a very difficult stage, I could say it was one of the most difficult I’ve ever done. I had to open the track from kilometre 4. I tried to keep a good pace, but I encountered some tough situations, with very soft sand that made it almost impossible to move forward; the bike got stuck about ten times, including one where I was thrown off completely and Toby and Luciano helped me to get the bike back upright. I want to say thanks to both. We opened the track all day long. I’m happy because I gave 100%. Some days go well and others not so well. But the best thing is to be satisfied with yourself.”
Continuing to impress, and despite the severity of today’s stage, Danilo Petrucci brought his Tech3 KTM 450 Rally home in a commendable 17th place, just over 23 minutes down on the eventual stage winner. With one more day remaining, the former MotoGP racer is now just 680 kilometres away from completing his first Dakar Rally.
Danilo Petrucci – P17
“It was one of the toughest days of my life today. I got a little lost early on with some other riders and then after that there were some really soft dunes. I have never seen anything like that before, it was really tiring to ride through. Then we raced through a huge sandstorm where it was really difficult to find your way and stay focused on your navigation. Luckily, after the refueling it was ok – the sand was still really soft, but it wasn’t so tricky. Unfortunately at one point I hit a piece of wood that was hidden underneath the sand and I had a big crash and hurt my shoulder. I was able to make it to the finish, but it did give me a lot of pain. We have one more day to go, so I’m looking forward to reaching the finish.”
Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides has completed the hugely demanding stage 11 of the Dakar Rally in 26th place. Following his excellent runner-up performance on Wednesday’s stage 10, the FR 450 Rally rider was the second competitor to take to today’s challenging special where he soon found himself up front and opening much of the route.
Luciano Benavides – P26
“Another stage done, and it was super tough today. Probably not the best day to start in front, but I did my best as always and I think I did a good job. The navigation was very tricky and with the dunes being so soft it would have been easy for the guys starting behind to make up time. I was able to catch up with Toby (Price) ahead of me and we took it in turns to open the stage. I lost some time, but not enough to affect my position in the overall. There is one day left so I will go out tomorrow and do my best to finish the race strong.”
Tomorrow’s Stage 12
Bisha-Jeddah. The final stage of the Dakar Rally 2022 will be decided over a total of 676 kilometres, including just 163 against the clock. Leaving the dunes behind, the race will be fought over hard tracks with some sand. A lot of technical complexity is expected before the riders reach the shores of the Red Sea, with the final podium set to take place on the Bisha street circuit.
The overall standings heading into Stage 12 will see Sam Sunderland leading by almost seven-minutes, ahead of Pablo Quintanilla and Matthias Walkner, with Adrien Van Beveren a more distant fourth 15m30s off the led. Joan Barreda sits fifth, 27m54s off the lead, while Brabec, Cornejo, Short, Klein and Price complete the top 10.
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