Sebastien Loeb had a mechanical issue during Stage 11 of the Dakar. (A.S.O./Eric Vargiolu/DPPI photo)

Sainz Takes Advantage Of Loeb’s Setbacks At Dakar

Over the 420 kilometres against the clock, the leaders were intent on holding strong and their pursuers were determined to attack. 

Ricky Brabec was equal to the task, still unshakeable despite Ross Branch’s stage victory, while Carlos Sainz was able to take advantage of Sébastien Loeb’s setbacks.

Everything was still possible, but only relatively speaking in the bike category, in which the Monster Energy Honda Team had locked up the leader’s position for Brabec. With the pact accepted by all the reds, there was still the issue of second place to be settled — a place accessible to Adrien Van Beveren or Nacho Cornejo.

The Chilean’s case was settled after 111 km, where he had to struggle with his bike to solve a fuel pump problem. In the meantime, the South African Hero rider, who was the fifth biker to start, took advantage to climb up the stage rankings and grab his second win of the week, while gaining a little on Brabec.

Van Beveren also kept hold of his third place, despite a major fright when an unexpected encounter with a herd of dromedaries ended with a heavy tumble.

There were no more twists in the tale on two wheels, but the plot developments in the Ultimate class of the car category were even more spectacular, with the duel between Sainz and Loeb causing live tracking addicts to break out in cold sweats throughout the day.

As Loeb’s adventures unfolded, the race scenarios changed several times. The BRX driver was able to save his place on the podium but owes this chiefly to the first major setback experienced on the Dakar by Lucas Moraes.

With a time loss of more than two hours, the Brazilian came down to earth with a bang, from third place to ninth place in the race hierarchy, to be precise. On the contrary, Guerlain Chicherit continued to climb up the rankings and has now reached fourth place thanks to a second consecutive stage success won as an opener.

To climb onto the podium tomorrow, he will have to gain seven minutes over 175 kilometres from Sébastien Loeb, while opening once again.

In the Challenger class, it is very unlikely that Mitch Guthrie will fall from the top of the category thanks to his 25-minute lead over Cristina Gutiérrez, but the couple formed by Nicolás Cavigliasso and Valentina Pertegarini will be looking for a hat-trick tomorrow after winning a second consecutive stage.

However, Xavier de Soultrait will have to keep a very close eye on his nearest pursuer in the SSV race hierarchy — namely Jérôme de Sadeleer, who is 2’49’’ behind the Frenchman.

In the truck race, despite the 10th stage win of his career, Aleš Loprais has still not managed to bring the time between himself and Martin Macík to below two hours.

The latter will have the honour of flying the Czech flag at the top of the final general rankings and proudly draping himself in its folds on the podium in Yanbu tomorrow evening.