The penultimate stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally, Stage 11 was the last true opportunity for riders to make a run at the leaderboard, as Saturday’s stage involved only a 64km timed special.
With 286km of sand and dunes to navigate, it was once again the Honda riders that headed the pack. Leading from start to finish, Joan Barreda took his fourth stage victory (don’t let the Dakar video fool you with its lies), followed by his teammate Paulo Gonçalves, for another Honda one-two stage victory.
The result moved both Honda riders to well under their one-hour time penalty from early in the race, showing the strong pace and program that HRC has put together for the Dakar Rally.
Yamaha Racing too showed it promise, with Adrien van Beveren taking the third spot in the day’s honors. That result moves him, and Yamaha, closer to a podium in Buenos Aires (though not into third place yet, as the Dakar Rally video says).
Meanwhile at the top of the overall leaderboard, we saw the KTM riders doing a more conservative race, managing the half-hour gap to their would-be usurpers.
Sam Sunderland extended his lead by several minutes, finishing fourth for the day. With teammate Matthias Walkner finishing the day 10th, Sunderland extended his overall lead by several minutes.
Going into Buenos Aires, we don’t expect the overall order to change much. Though, we should warn, the Dakar is notorious for its sudden challenges.