The penultimate special stage of the Dakar was praised by "the Matador" who won his second stage of this edition: "camel grass, dunes, more dunes, rocks, river beds, it was very complete and difficult to open".
A Bisha-Bisha loop that headed due north to enter the Province of Mecca before turning around to return to Asir, in the extreme southwest of the Kingdom.
With a total of 501 km, there were 346 kilometers of selective sector composed of 42% of sand and a third of dunes, sometimes very soft, which should allow the contenders for tomorrow's victory to make the difference at the beginning of the last lap.
"The hardest stage of this Dakar" summarized the biker Pablo Quintanilla, who took advantage of this stage to place second in the provisional general standings behind Sam Sunderland.
He felt the trap closing in on him. Perfectly aware of the situation in which he found himself yesterday, Adrien Van Beveren was condemned to perform a feat in order to avoid seeing his direct rivals and their pack attacking him.
Instead, it was a handful of minutes of hesitation on a waypoint, after only 4 kilometers of track, that made the challenge unmanageable. The strategists who had taken care to calculate a favorable starting position this morning were able to open the throttle to the maximum.
The most consistent of them this year, Sam Sunderland, was able to take the biggest cheshire chestnut and regain his place at the top while Pablo Quintanilla, who is not the least of the clever ones, is now in 2nd place, 6'52'' behind the leader who can now advance a little more serenely towards the victory.
Matthias Walkner also passed Van Beveren who will have a hard time consoling himself with the 4th place that awaits him tomorrow, the podium being difficult to envisage with 8'15'' behind the former Austrian winner.
In the middle of this fight for the win, Kevin Benavides offered himself for the anecdote the 6th special of his career.
Results Stage 11
1. BENAVIDES Kevin-Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team 03:30'56
2. SUNDERLAND Sam-Gas Gas Factory Team +00:00'04
3. RODRIGUES Joaquim-Hero Motorsports Team Rally +00:02'26
4. WALKNER Matthias-Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +00:04'54
5. BRABEC Ricky-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:05'22
6. QUINTANILLA Pablo-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:07'40
7. CORNEJO José Ignacio-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:08'05
8. SHORT Andrew-Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +00:15'46
9. SVITKO Stefan-Slovnaft Rally Team +00:17'51
10. GIEMZA Maciej-Orlen Team +00:20'55
11. NOSIGLIA Daniel-Rieju - FN Speed Team +00:21'22
12. VAN BEVEREN Adrien-Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team+00:21'33
13. DE SOULTRAIT Xavier-HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing +00:21'45
14. SANTOLINO Lorenzo-Sherco TVS Rally Factory +00:23'33
15. NOAH Harith-Sherco TVS Rally Factory +00:23'38
16. BARREDA Joan-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:25'10
Provisionnal standings after Stage 11
1. SUNDERLAND Sam-Gas Gas Factory Team 37:04'05
2. QUINTANILLA Pablo-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:06'52
3. WALKNER Matthias-Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +00:07'15
4. VAN BEVEREN Adrien-Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +00:15'30
5. BARREDA Joan-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:27'54
6. BRABEC Ricky-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:37'24
7. CORNEJO José Ignacio-Monster Energy Honda Team +00:41'02
8. SHORT Andrew-Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team +00:43'40
9. PRICE Toby-Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +00:52'27
10. SVITKO Stefan-Slovnaft Rally Team +00:53'38