From the very start of the Dakar rally-raid, Stefan Petransel relied on a reasonable and balanced approach and tried to keep the situation under control, which he successfully succeeded. Although today, at the 11th stage of the competition, which is considered one of the key ones, “Monsieur Dakar” lost the victory to Nasser Al-Attiyah, nevertheless, he continues to lead in the overall standings, ahead of the Qatari rider by more than 15 minutes.
The distance of the stage from Al-Ula to Yanbu is 598 km, but 464 of them are high-speed sections, so on Thursday the participants of the competition had to overcome many difficulties. The final, 12th stage remained until the finish of the rally-raid, and with such an advantage, Petransel practically guaranteed himself a 14th victory at the Dakar, considering that he won the first six of them while riding a motorcycle. Of course, some surprises may occur tomorrow, but, unlike Al-Attiyah, there is no point in risking a Frenchman, which somewhat increases the chances of success.
Petransel could have won today, but closer to the end of the stage his MINI buggy got a punctured wheel. The crew did not change it, but only slowed down. In theory, this could lead to a suspension breakdown, but it worked, and at the finish line the leader of Dakar lost to Al-Attiyah in less than two minutes.
The task of Carlos Sainz at this stage of the competition has changed: he has to finally come to terms with the lag and is already working for the X-Raid MINI JCW team. He should stay as close to Petransel, his partner as possible, and help him if necessary. Moreover, the Spaniard’s car was loaded with additional spare parts – in case of any breakdowns. True, today he himself had difficulties: he punctured two wheels, and also the air intake located on the roof broke on his buggy, caught on some sagging wire. As a result, Sainz finished third.
The fastest in the motorcycle class today was British rider Sam Sunderland for the factory Red Bull KTM team. This is his first victory at the stage, but thanks to stable results at the distance of the entire rally-raid, he took the second place in the general classification. From Argentinean Kevin Benavides, riding a Honda motorcycle, he is not so far behind, at four minutes and 12 seconds, but the final stage is quite short, and it will not be easy to recoup.
Among the ATV riders, Chilean Giovanni Enrico drove the fastest distance of the 11th stage, slightly ahead of Argentinean Manuel Andujar, who continues to confidently lead in this class. Enrico takes second place, losing almost 26 minutes.
In the category of light off-road vehicles, the victory at the stage was won by the American-German crew of Seth Quintero and Dennis Tsenz, who is also quite confidently leading in this class. Unfortunately, the winner of yesterday’s stage, Russian racer Sergey Karjakin, finished only 30th.
Our KAMAZs still dominate in the truck class: on Thursday, Anton Shibalov’s crew was the fastest, Airat Mardeev lost a little over four minutes; Andrey Karginov finished fourth, Dmitry Sotnikov – fifth. One stage before the end of the rally-raid, he continues to confidently lead in his category.
The penultimate day of the Dakar began with the arrival of Jean Todt at the start of the stage and meeting with the participants and organizers of the competition. After that, the FIA President commented on his Twitter page: “I am glad to visit the Dakar today, talk with the organizers and give instructions to the riders and the team. This unique rally-raid remains true to its traditions. “
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