2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Harith Noah leads Rally 2, Audi close to victory, Macik extends his lead and more
In the challenging rocky terrain from AlUla to Yanbu, the 2024 Dakar Rally embarked on its penultimate stage, featuring a Special Stage covering 420km and a Liaison of 107km. As the racers pushed their limits in the diverse landscapes, many riders suffered minor crashes and drivers mechanical issues including punctures and suspension issues. In the bike category, Honda's Ricky Brabec faced the tough task of navigating without tracks, allowing Hero's Ross Branch to secure a stage victory. Despite this, Brabec maintained a commanding lead in the general rankings. The Rally 2 class witnessed Sherco TVS Rally's Harith Noah overcoming rocky terrains to lead the class. In the car category, the battle between Sainz and Loeb continued, with mechanical challenges shaping the narrative. The truck race saw Martin Macik maintaining a substantial lead, but a surprising twist in Stage 11 added a layer of unpredictability to the category. Across quads, bikes, cars, and trucks, the Dakar Rally remained a true test of skill and endurance.
2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Bikes
Honda’s Ricky Brabec, leading the general rankings, started the stage with an 11-minute advantage over his closest rival, Hero’s Ross Branch. Brabec, opening the road for the stage, faced the challenge of navigating without tracks to follow, which eventually led to him losing some time to Branch but the bonuses made up for it. Ross Branch, despite losing ground to Honda teammates Brabec and Adrien Van Beveren initially, managed to regain some time and finished the stage strong, winning it by 32 seconds over Brabec. This victory, however, wasn't enough to sufficiently close the gap in the overall rankings, with Brabec still maintaining a lead of over 11 minutes going into the final stage.
Talking about the day, Ricky said, “It’s close. I opened the whole day by myself and I was expecting my team-mate Nacho to catch me, but unfortunately, he had a little issue. Then I was waiting for my team-mate Adrien for him to grab some bonus time. I know Ross is pushing hard today and I don’t know what the results are so far from the stage, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be me, Adrien and Ross as the top 3 tomorrow. We’ll see what happens, but there’s still one stage to go. I would say it was my best ride of the rally.”
2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Indians at Dakar
In the Rally 2 class, Sherco TVS Rally’s Harith Noah, despite admitting to struggling with rocky terrains, put up an impressive performance to take the lead in the Rally 2 overall rankings. This came after Romain Dumontier (Team Dumontier Racing), leading the Rally 2 class, faced his own set of challenges, including a fall and navigational errors, which saw him lose over 18 minutes to the stage winner, Bradley Cox (BAS World KTM Racing Team).
“I knew it was going to be a hard day. It was said to be the stage with a lot of rocks and delivered. Felt pretty good in the beginning but then once we started getting into the rocks, I had two small crashes. Tried to focus on the navigation and keeping it on two wheels for the remainder of the stage,” said Harith about the stage.
2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Cars
In Stage 10, Sainz faced difficulties with two punctures, losing his spare wheel and about 10 minutes, while Loeb also struggled with punctures and a failed hydraulic jack, losing 15 minutes. Despite these setbacks, they were the top two contenders going into Stage 11, separated by just 13 minutes.
Stage 11 began with Overdrive Racing’s Guerlain Chicherit, the previous day's winner, leading the pack. Sainz and Loeb both started later but early into the stage, Sainz took the lead, gaining a minute over Loeb. However, Loeb soon narrowed this gap to 21 seconds.
The drama intensified when Loeb was forced to stop due to mechanical issues after 132km, specifically a broken front right-hand A-arm, resulting in a significant delay. Sainz passed him, gaining a considerable advantage. Loeb's team struggled to provide immediate assistance, further exacerbating his delay. Despite these challenges, Loeb resumed the race after a halt of over an hour. Meanwhile, Sainz maintained his lead, consistently outperforming his competitors at various checkpoints. The day concluded with Chicherit winning the stage, marking his seventh victory in the Dakar Rally and his second consecutive win. Sainz finished third in the stage but solidified his overall lead, now 1 hour and 27 minutes ahead of Guillaume de Mevius of Overdrive Racing, who climbed to second place due to the problems faced by Loeb. Loeb, after overcoming his mechanical issues, managed to secure third place in the overall rankings, keeping his podium hopes alive with a gap of around 10 minutes behind de Mevius.
2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Quads
Manuel Andujar (7240 Team), the leader in the general rankings, maintained a slim margin over Alexandre Giroud (Yamaha Racing) despite encountering mechanical issues the previous day. He had to repair a significant part of the chassis, yet managed to win Stage 10.
On Stage 11, the rivalry intensified as Giroud took an early lead at the first checkpoint, holding a 45-second advantage over Andújar, with Juraj Varga following closely. As the stage progressed, Giroud continued to maintain his lead, albeit with a slightly reduced margin of 39 seconds over Andujar after 179km. Ultimately, Giroud secured victory in Stage 11, finishing just 37 seconds ahead of Andujar, marking his fourth victory of the year. Heading into the final stage, the competition remains fierce, with Andujar holding a slender overall lead of 8 minutes and 14 seconds over Giroud.
2024 Dakar Rally Stage 11: Trucks
The Trucks category is more or less decided. Martin Macik (MM technology), leading the category, holds a substantial advantage of over two hours ahead of fellow Czech racer Ales Loprais. Despite his comfortable lead, Macik acknowledges the unpredictability of the rally.
Gert Huzink (Jongbloed Dakar Team), the winner of the previous two stages started Stage 11 but was forced to stop after 112km due to a technical issue. Meanwhile, Macik continued to dominate, narrowly leading Janus van Kasteren (Boss Machinery) by 11 seconds and Ales Loprais (Instaforex Loprais Praga) by 44 seconds after 179km. As the stage progressed, Macík extended his lead, staying ahead of Loprais by just under 2 minutes and van Kasteren by over 11 minutes at the 292km mark. In a surprising twist at the end of the stage, Macik, who appeared to be cruising towards victory, was overtaken by Loprais, finishing 5 minutes and 7 seconds behind. Despite this setback, Macik remains in a strong position heading into the final stage, maintaining a lead of over 2 hours in the overall
Tomorrow start's the final stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally. Even though a lot of competitors have comfortable leads, Dakar poses unseen challenges which can shake even the best. We wait till tomorrow when we would get the final results.