Sunderland Wins Stage - Dakar
Posted on January 14, 2021
Red Bull KTM Factory rider Sam Sunderland has done it! The British biker has not only reacquainted himself with the podium for the first time in 2019 but has taken a superb victory. The KTM rider has managed to maintain a comfortable lead over the Husqvarna ridden by Pablo Quintanilla to taste success in style.
Kevin Benavides still leads the rally in the overall positions ahead of Sunderland, Ricky Brabec and Daniel Sanders.
14:15 Benavides and Brabec at the finishing line
Kevin Benavides and his team-mate Ricky Brabec have just completed the day’s special. The Argentinean has in creased his lead over his American rival in the general standings to 7 minutes. With one stage left before the finish in Jeddah, Brabec can still dream of the title, but Benavides is nonetheless in a more favourable position.
14:02 Barreda exits the race
It was likely to happen and now it has been confirmed: Joan Barreda has drawn his adventure to a close. The Spaniard, who had ground to a halt after running out of petrol, requested an examination by the medical team that has airlifted him to the bivouac.
13:34 Sanders moves ahead of Benavides
By just one second, Daniel Sanders has gained the upper hand over Kevin Benavides after 404 km, but the two rivals are still more than 6’45’’ behind super Sam Sunderland. The gap between Ricky Brabec and Kevin Benavides is still 6’01’’.
13:07 Sunderland and Quintanilla still lead
After 362 km, a KTM and a Husqvarna lead the stage, ridden respectively by Super Sam Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla, with 1’37’’ separating the two riders. Kevin Benavides is still in third, trailing by 40’’, while rookie Daniel Sanders is 6’03’’ behind.
12:52 Still 6 minutes between Benavides and Brabec
With one hundred kilometres left until the finishing line, Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec are continuing to ride together and the gap separating them has hardly changed since the previous time check point. If the situation stays the same, Benavides will have done no harm to his chances the day before the rally ends…
12:27 Sunderland takes the lead
Super Sam Sunderland is imposing his pace after 306 km. The British rider boasts a lead of 1’37’’ over Pablo Quintanilla and almost three minutes over Kevin Benavides. In sixth, Ricky Brabec has lost more than nine minutes to Sunderland and, more significantly, more than six minutes to Benavides! The two Honda bikers are riding alongside and it looks like being difficult for Brabec to make the difference before the finishing line.
11:39 Sanders is wheel-to-wheel with Benavides
Daniel Sanders has climbed back to within a second of Kevin Benavides after 260 km. The rookie could pick up his first stage victory today and offer success to KTM.
11:34 Benavides and Brabec now open the way
Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec have passed Joan Barreda on the day’s route and are currently opening the way. The American, after getting briefly lost, returned to the correct route and is hot on the heels of his team-mate. As Brabec admitted yesterday, Honda are not giving teal orders to their riders!
11:16 Barreda is out of gas!
Joan Barreda has run out of petrol after 267 km! After missing the refuelling point, unfortunately the Spaniard left himself open to such a mishap.
11:04 Brabec loses his way
Ricky Brabec has gone astray from the route of the special after 247 km. The title holder, already lagging behind Kevin Benavides at the last intermediate point, could lose valuable time.
10:57 Benavides opens a gap over Brabec
The state of play after 215 km, even if it is provisional due to Joan Barreda’s mistake, has nonetheless revealed a gap growing between Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec. For the moment, it is advantage to the Argentinean, who boasts a lead of almost three minutes over his team-mate and rival in the general standings. However, the two Honda riders have not yet reached the midway point of the stage and a mishap or mistake can occur at any time…
10:35 Big mistake for Barreda!
Joan Barreda boasts a lead of 12' over Ricky Brabec after 215 km! However, the Spaniard has not stopped at the refuelling point and has continued the special. The fifth placed rider in the general standings is likely to receive a big penalty at the finish and could end up running out of petrol...
09:35 The top 4 within 10’’
Pablo Quintanilla has regained the lead after 127 km with the same time as Daniel Sanders. Joan Barreda and Sam Sunderland are hot on the two riders’ heels, less than 10’’ behind! The special is proving more difficult for Kevin Benavides, trailing by 1’49’’ and Ricky Brabec, who is 2’29’’ behind the current stage leader.
09:11 Sanders regains the lead
Pablo Quintanilla has reached the second intermediate point in fourth position, 30’’ behind rookie Daniel Sanders who leads ahead of Joan Barreda. Ricky Brabec is third, 16’’ behind, while Kevin Benavides trails by 46’’ in fifth position. However, the gaps are likely to increase when everybody has completed 127 km…
09:06 Brabec loses some ground
The three Hondas ridden by Joan Barreda, Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec have already completed 127 km and the title holder already trails Barreda by 2’30 and Benavides, his main rival in the general standings, by 40’’.
09:02 Van Beveren has already lost 5 minutes
Adrien van Beveren, the sole official Yamaha rider left in the race, is experiencing several difficulties at the start of the special: the Frenchman has already conceded more than five minutes to Daniel Sanders at the second time check point and Pablo Quintanilla, stage leader at WP1, has not arrived yet.
08:44 Now it is Quintanilla’s turn
Pablo Quintanilla, the runner-up to Ricky Brabec in 2020, only has one podium finish for the moment this year, but the Husqvarna rider is on the attack at the start of this special, moving into the lead, 38’’ ahead of Daniel Sanders! Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec now trail by more than one minute. Martin Michek, last year’s third best rookie, has climbed into third position on the special!
08:31 Counter-attack from KTM
Rookie Daniel Sanders and Sam Sunderland, both rather discreet yesterday, have moved into the lead at the first time check point. The two KTM riders currently lead the HRC trio made up of Kevin Benavides, Joan Barreda and Ricky Brabec. For the moment, seven riders are within the same minute!
08:12 Barreda is already at WP1
Joan Barreda, who predicted a long and difficult stage during which mistakes must be avoided, has already reached the first time check point after 41 km. He boasts a lead of several seconds over Ricky Brabec, but all eyes will be on Kevin Benavides’ time when he reaches WP1.
07:56 Gelažninkas closes in on the titre
Arūnas Gelažninkas is hammering home his advantage in the Original by Motul category. The Lithuanian increased his lead to more than an hour over title holder Emanuel Gyenes yesterday. With two stages left to go, the fight to retain his title looks very difficult for the Romanian.
07:37 Brabec gets to grips with the special
Ricky Brabec is the first biker out of the traps on the 11th special. Kevin Benavides, his main rival, will set off six minutes afterwards. Less than one minute separates the two men two stages from the finish in Jeddah and the battle promises to be captivating.
07:20 Brabec surges
Ricky Brabec reached the rest day almost 20 minutes behind the overall leader. Fast-forward to the start of the penultimate stage and the reigning champion is within a minute of the new leader, Kevin Benavides. Now that Toby Price and Nacho Cornejo are gone, Benavides is the last man standing between Brabec and a successful title defence. Sam Sunderland, the top KTM rider in third place, needs both Honda riders to flop big time to get back in the game… and, with just two stages to go, the odds are dropping fast.
07:00 Yanbu beckons at the end of a decisive stage
At 511 kilometres, the penultimate stage is also the longest in the 43rd Dakar, featuring almost 100 kilometres of dunes. The titles are still up for grabs in some categories, so the favourites will have to measure each jump carefully to try and gain time and, even more importantly, avoid losing any. The stage to Yanbu could well hold the key to the Dakar.
18:41 Stage 11 shortened, timetable stays the same
The recent weather in the final stretch of stage 11 as originally designed has forced the organisers to shorten the course by about 50 kilometres to avoid the area. However, dunes remain the backbone of this decisive stage, which is going to put the competitors and their vehicles through the wringer!