MOTORSPORT

Dakar Stage 11: Carlos Sainz Sr. sails ahead

Stage 11 proved to be another brutal stretch for the cars. The course involved traversing rocky passes, forcing more unwanted stops.

Jordan Schmidt
January 19, 2024
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Dakar Stage 11: Carlos Sainz Sr. sails ahead

  

The Audi crew had a good start, as all three vehicles followed each other through the desert. This allowed for rapid repairs and borrowing tyres to significantly reduce stoppage time. Despite substantial tyre damage, the three cars worked together to deliver everyone to the end of the course in good time.

 

Sebastien Loeb entered the stage with no room for error, but luck was not on his side. He suffered five punctures on the stage, massively damaging his overall time. To add to the pain of sourcing extra rubber from other Prodrive cars, he damaged his suspension. The unfortunate time loss pushed him down to third in the overall rankings and nearly crushed his hopes of a first Dakar title.

 

Lucas Moraes felt confident in a podium finish ahead of the stage, but the terrain proved to be troublesome for his Hilux. Suspension damage forced over two hours of repairs, dropping his position off the podium and nearly out of the top ten.

 

Guillaume De Mevius's Overdrive Racing Hilux was closely pursuing Sebastien Loeb and Lucas Moraes. De Mevius had a blindingly quick 11th stage, finishing second behind his teammate, Guerlain Chicherit. His impressive performance, paired with the costly repairs on both Sebastien Loeb and Lucas Moraes cars, opened the door for second place in the overall rankings, ahead of the final stage.

 

On a local front, the South African teenager, Saood Variawa, had a massive stage, finishing fifth on the day, proving that his inexperience doesn't necessarily translate into a lack of pace. He laid down an impressive stage before the final day.

 

The results for Stage 11 are as follows:

 

  1. 211, Guerlain Chicherit, Overdrive Racing
  2. 221, Guillaume De Mevius, Overdrive Racing
  3. 204, Carlos Sainz, Team Audi Sport
  4. 207, Mattias Ekstrom, Team Audi Sport
  5. 226, Saood Variawa, Toyota Gazoo Racing
  6. 220, Christian Lavieille, MD Rallye Sport
  7. 205, Juan Cruz Yacopini, Overdrive Racing
  8. 214, Vaidotas Zala, X-Raid Arijus Team
  9. 210, Nani Roma, Ford M-Sport
  10. 243, Guy David Botterill, Toyota Gazoo Racing

 

The long-awaited moment is nearly upon us. With only one day of racing remaining, it appears that Carlos Sainz Sr. may have this one wrapped up. His consistency and teamwork have paid off generously this year, and he is now more than an hour clear of his closest competitor.

 

Sebastien Loeb is trusting in a miracle for a chance at the title, with Guillaume De Mevius slipping in front of him in the rankings. Fortunately for the South Africans, both Guy David Botterill and Giniel de Villiers are sitting in the top ten, at sixth and seventh, respectively. They can only hope for some luck in the final stage.

 

The last stage of the Dakar 2024 is a short 328-kilometre stage, and if the last two days are anything to go by, then the competitors are set for a rocky ride.

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