The event organizers ensured a sting in the tail to this year’s Dakar Rally by delivering one of the most challenging race stages on a penultimate day. Technically demanding navigation combined with incredibly soft sand and dunes tested the riders and their machines to the limit.
After a disappointing stage 10 yesterday in which his 2022 Dakar hopes ended, 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 win the stage by a narrow four seconds ultimately. Benavides will now lead out the event’s short, final 164-kilometre timed special on Friday’s stage 12.
Kevin Benavides: “It was a demanding day today. It’s great to win, but I’m full of emotion because of yesterday’s issue. Up to that point, was fighting for the overall, and now, after going fastest today, Know would have been in with a chance to win the rally. Gave it my all today, mostly to prove that I could do it. Think it’s essential 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 a fantastic bike for today – it felt perfect on the stage. Will now have the pleasure of opening the previous location of the race with no pressure, so I’m looking forward to it and reaching the finish.”
In the fight for the overall rally honours, 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: “It was a long and high-speed stage today. It was very dusty this morning, which made the navigation even more difficult. Made a few small mistakes, but I tried my best all day, pushing as hard as possible. 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.”
After winning on day 10, Toby Price had the unenviable task of opening today’s ultra-tough stage 11. 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 could 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: “It was super dusty today, and navigation was tricky, but I had a frustrating problem early on at kilometre four where one waypoint didn’t validate, even though I’m pretty sure 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.”
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 just 680 kilometres away from completing his first Dakar Rally.
Danilo Petrucci: “It was one of the most challenging days of my life today. I got a little lost early on with some other riders, and then after that, there were some soft dunes. I have never seen anything like that before. It was tiring to ride through. Then we raced through a large sandstorm where it was tough to find your way and stay focused on your navigation.
Luckily, it was ok after the refuelling – 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 had a big crash and hurt my shoulder.
Could make it to the finish, but it did give me much pain. We have one more day to go, so I’m looking forward to reaching the finish.”
Provisional Results Stage 11 (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally
- 1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:30:56
- 2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 3:31:00 +0:04
- 3. Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT), Hero, 3:33:22 +2:26
- 4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:35:50 +4:54
- 5. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:36:18 +5:22
- 17. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 3:54:10 +23:14
- 28. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:01:43 +30:47
Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 11 of 12 stages
- 1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 37:04:05
- 2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 37:10:57 +6:52
- 3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 37:11:20 +7:15
- 4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 37:19:35 +15:30
- 5. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 37:31:59 +27:54
- Other KTM
- 9. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 37:55:14 +51:09
- 10. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 37:56:32 +52:27