Despite predictions of a navigational nightmare, Stage 11 was quite calm compared to yesterday’s madness at the Dakar rally.
To nobody’s surprise, Toby Price (KTM) took the stage win.
Price is probably the fastest rider remaining, but so far has shown little of the alien-like combination of navigation and speed that won him the 2016 event. Now, he’s running out of time to catch up to frontrunner Matthias Walkner (KTM), although he did claw back some time today. He’ll have to do even better tomorrow if he hopes to win, as the finish line is fast approaching.
He’ll also have to beat out Honda’s Kevin Benavides (see his skills in the gif below), who now sits second overall, between Walkner and Price. Benavides is a long shot for the win, but if anything happens to Walkner, he’s the guy Price will have to best, and Price is still about seven minutes back.
Benavides moved up to second when Honda’s Joan Barreda left the race today. After a serious smash-up yesterday, which reportedly left him with a broken neck protector, Barreda was supposedly unconscious for a while, but managed to pull himself together enough to start today’s stage. He soon ended off-course, even riding around a town off-route for a while. At the 100-km mark, he was done, leaving the rally.
It’s highly possible he was suffering from post-concussion issues, judging by his behaviour, which would have compounded on top of the knee he injured earlier this rally, and the wrist he broke shortly before the race. Despite exhibitions of blistering speed, this just wasn’t Barreda’s year; now, with him gone, Toby Price’s job just got a lot easier.
But wait, there’s more! Another top-10 spot opened up today when Stefan Svitko (who races a KTM for the Slovnaft team) also withdrew, suffering the after effects of a crash yesterday. Again, it’s bad luck for Svitko, who’s a remarkably successful privateer, and would likely be aboard a factory team if the world was fair.
Top female competitor Laia Sanz (KTM) also had another smash-up in front of the TV chopper today; she rode it out, but at the rate she’s going, she’ll be lucky to make it to the end of the rally without some broken bones.
Stage 11 Top 10
- Toby Price, KTM
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:01:38
- Antoine Meo, KTM, + 00:06:31
- Ricky Brabec, Honda, + 00:07:34
- Matthias Walkner, KTM, + 00:11:01
- Gerard Farres, Himoinsa, + 00:12:32
- Johnny Aubert, Gas Gas, + 00:19:38
- Juan Pedrero Garcia, Sherco, + 00:22:46
- Oriol Mena, Hero, + 00:27:00
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, Honda, + 00:27:08
Top 10 Overall
- Matthias Walkner, KTM (00:01:00 penalty)
- Kevin Benavides, Honda, + 00:32:00
- Toby Price, KTM, + 00:39:17
- Gerard Farres, KTM, + 00:49:17
- Antoine Meo, KTM, + 00H 59′ 05 (00:01:00 penalty)
- Ricky Brabec, Honda, + 01:18:10
- Johnny Aubert, Gas Gas, + 01:49:34 (00:19:00 penalty)
- Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, + 01:53:19
- Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, Honda, + 02:05:57
- Oriol Mena, Hero, + 02:13: 07