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Rally-Raid Network - DAKAR-NEWS

Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Van Kasteren, Snijders and Rodewald remain just in the lead

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As the final showdown of the Dakar rally approaches, the participating pilots in their trucks prepared for a new battle in the large sandpit of the Empty Quarter.

Stage 11 started with a liaison of 151 kilometers. This was followed by a special of 275 kilometers. After that it was straight into the Parc Fermé. The terrain consisted of many dunes, but also treacherous chotts; dried up riverbeds with soft swampy areas that are difficult to spot. If you get it wrong, you run the risk of getting stuck and that you need help to get out again.
Classification leaders Janus van Kasteren jr., Marcel Snijders and Darek Rodewald started the stage third on behalf of Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco. Team De Rooy’s pilots had agreed on a tactical plan for the second part of the marathon. Van Kasteren jr. completely in line with the plan let Martin Macik pass and the Czech set the pace.
Colleague pilot Mitchel van den Brink waited for his teammate and father Martin van den Brink who had started behind him. In this way both Janus and Martin got backed up by Mitchel. After the rest day, agreements have been made and the youngest Van de Brink takes on the role of fast assistance. He helps the two best placed teams of Team De Rooy if necessary.
As expected, Macik fought hard to recover time in the general ranking. He therefore was leading during the first part of the special. At the third waypoint, however, he had lost time and from that moment on a beautiful 1-2-3 for Team De Rooy seemed to be in the making. The tactical plan paid off perfectly, but things turned a bit bitter when Janus van Kasteren Jr. got his Boss Machinery Team De Rooy Iveco Powerstar stuck in a dune.
Fortunately, Mitchel was able to do his job as a fast assistance truck. He quickly pulled Janus Jr.'s truck free and he was able to continue his race. Janus jr. continued the rest of the special without any problems, but at the finish, the team with starting number 502 had almost completely lost the lead in the general classification. From the 22 minutes and 41 seconds at the start of the day, there is now only 1 minute and 12 seconds left.
Martin van den Brink is ready to strike. The damage on Macik was limited. The number three in the standings is still well behind Janus van Kasteren Jr. by 47 minutes and 46 seconds. Mitchel van den Brink suffered a malfunction in the turbo sensor after helping Janus and lost a lot of time again. In the general classification he is almost 3.5 hours behind in fifth place.

Janus talks about a tough stage: “Man, what a day. I didn't know they could make a day in a marathon special so tough. There were dunes… There are many teams that got stuck today. We went down one dune crest and then we nose-dived into another dune. Luckily Mitchel pulled us out. We could keep shoveling, but more sand came back every time we shoveled. We tied a rope around the leaf spring and pulled the truck out. Now it's all or nothing. Three more days. I am very confident. If we just do our thing and don't have any bad luck then it can still work out for us. I'm glad I'm in the bivouac. Nothing else on the truck except for one tire that didn't come off. Everything else is fine.”

Tomorrow part two of the marathon stage awaits with a special stage of 185 kilometers with lots of sand, dunes, fes fes (very soft sand) and lots of chotts! So be careful in the exciting battle for overall victory in Dakar 2023!

Source: Boss Machinery - Team de Rooy

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Hero Motosports Team Rally powers into the last quarter of Dakar 2023

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Hero MotoSports Team Rally, the motorsport team of the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters - Hero MotoCorp, completed the 11th Stage of the Dakar Rally
2023 with two riders finishing in the top-10 ranks.
Sebastian Buhler led the team today with a strong 6th place, having crossed the finish line just 5 minutes behind the winner. Franco Caimi followed right behind, finishing in the 8th position, claiming his third consecutive top-10 finish. Ross Branch who opened the stage today finished 16th among Rally GP class riders.
Riding into the unknown territories of the Empty Quarter, the three Hero MotoSports riders rode with caution, and reached the bivouac safe. The first day of the marathon stage today was a 428 km ride from Shaybah, of which 274 kms formed the timed special. The stage was 100% dunes, and even though they had fun, the riders took extreme care to avoid any mistakes in the stage. As part of the tricky marathon stage, the competitors are devoid of any access to assistance trucks or mechanics at the bivouac, and any mechanical issues for their bikes will need to be serviced by the riders themselves.
Sebastian Buhler put in a great pace right from the start of the stage, staying in the top-5 at most of the check points, before finally crossing the finish line 6th. This is the fourth top-10 performance so far for the young German. However, having suffered some technical mishaps earlier in the race, Buhler finds himself at the 17th overall position in the Rally GP class standings.
Franco Caimi’s consistent performance since the start of the Rally is highly commendable, and his third consecutive top-10 finish today helps him move one more position up to the 12th place in the overall Rally GP class rankings.
Ross Branch, who claimed his second Stage victory of the race yesterday, knew opening Stage 11 in the empty quarter was going to be tough. He lost some time finding his way through the sea of steep dunes, and still managed to finish the 280 km stage just 12 minutes behind the winner. However, the couple of hours lost due to technical issues in earlier stages holds Branch back at the 19th position in the Rally GP class overall standings.
Stage 12 will now take the riders back to Shaybah from the Marathon bivouac - a 375 km ride through the Empty Quarter. The second half of the marathon stage will be yet another dune fest, which the riders will have to enjoy with much caution.

Franco Caimi:
“I had some good fun on the bike today in the nice dunes of the Empty Quarter. A small mistake around 40 kms where I couldn't find a waypoint cost me around 5 minutes. Anyhow, I could clear that in the end, and I'm happy to finish in the top-10 for the third consecutive stage - all thanks to the good rhythm I have achieved with my Hero 450! Looking forward to tomorrow, and the remaining 3 stages of the Rally.”

Sebastian Buhler: “It was a good stage today and I enjoyed riding through the nice desert. It was almost entirely dunes, and I found a good pace with the bike. I was able to ride quite fast, and was fighting in the top-5 throughout the stage, and I’m happy with my result. Tomorrow seems to be a
similar stage as today, so I’ll try to put my best efforts to make another good result.”

Ross Branch: “Opening the marathon stage in the empty quarter was going to be difficult task – I knew that for sure. But it was a fun stage, I just had to ride with much caution, since any mistake could cost me heavily today. Anyhow, I’m happy to have finished the stage in one piece; we’re having a good time with all the riders together – enjoying the true Dakar spirit. Looking forward to tomorrow, to ride back and meet with the rest of the team.”


Source Hero Motosports

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Third-place result for Toby Price

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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has completed the first half of the Dakar Rally’s Empty Quarter marathon stage as third fastest. The impressive result moves him back into second place in the overall standings, just 28 seconds down on the leader. Kevin Benavides rode to a solid 10th place today and drops two spots to third in the standings, while Matthias Walkner successfully defended his 10th place overall after his performance through the Saudi dunes.

Leading competitors from Shaybah to the bivouac in the Empty Quarter, today’s stage 11 delivered 274-kilometers of dunes and tracks raced against the clock. With times still tight at the top of the leaderboard, riders had to push hard over the grueling terrain to secure their positions while also being mindful to take extra care of their machines, as no outside assistance is permitted overnight.

After the 153-kilometer liaison this morning, Toby Price was the 19th rider to enter today’s special. The Australian made steady progress through the stage, balancing out-and-out speed with the preservation of himself and his KTM 450 RALLY. Ultimately posting the third-fastest time for the stage, just under two minutes down on the leader, means Toby climbs back up to second overall in the provisional standings and will also have two riders to chase down on tomorrow’s slightly shorter 185-kilometer special on stage 12.

Toby Price: “I think the stage went well for me today, I was able to get a little bit of time back and that puts me in good contention for the podium places still. I’m feeling in good shape and the bike is perfect, so no issues there. Starting back a little bit definitely helped today. I did make a little mistake early on, like a couple of the guys in front I think, but was able to correct it pretty quickly and carry on. I just took it quite steady today – pushed where it was safe to do so and then eased off a bit to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes. I’ll be third away for tomorrow, which isn’t too bad, so I’ll keep on fighting and see where we end up.”

In contrast to his teammate Price, Kevin Benavides set off near the front of today’s stage, and with little in the way of tracks ahead of him, the Argentinian had to carefully navigate his way through the dunes of the special. Making good time through the first half of the stage, Benavides fought his way up to fourth, but was then forced to ease his pace after catching the lead group of riders, which he joined on the final kilometers to the finish. In placing 10th, Kevin drops to third overall in the rankings, but trails the leader by less than three minutes.

Kevin Benavides: “Another tough day and the first part of the marathon stage today. I started in fourth position and tried to push straight away. I did a good job, I caught the guys in front after refueling, and from there we rode together for the last 80 kilometers or so. The bike is all ready in the parc fermé and I have a good start position for tomorrow, so it’s just a case of trying to make up time and stay in the fight.”

Enjoying his time in the Saudi desert, Matthias Walkner delivered a strong ride to 13th place, despite a couple of issues along the way. Having lost time through injury in the first week of the event, Matthias feel less under pressure and plans to complete his 2023 Dakar on a high, attacking the remaining stages and securing a solid finish.

Matthias Walkner: “I had a good stage today. It was good fun riding in the Empty Quarter for the second day and it certainly lived up to its name as there was nothing to see for miles around. I made a bit of a mistake early on that cost me some minutes, but then I managed to get stuck in a pocket of soft sand that took a little while to get out of. There is no contrast at all in the desert and you never know when something like this will happen. I pushed hard after refueling to make up time, and that was great fun jumping off the dunes. It really was a beautiful stage. I have a good start position for tomorrow, so I’ll aim for a top-three finish.”

Riders return to their teams at the bivouac in Shaybah tomorrow on day 12 of the rally, covering a total of 376 kilometers, 185 of which are timed special stage.

Provisional Results – 2023 Dakar Rally, Stage 11

1. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 2:57:59
2. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 2:59:37 +1:38
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:59:55 +1:56
4. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 3:00:08 +2:09
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 3:00:53 +2:54
Other KTM
10. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:04:21 +6:22
13. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:06:33 +8:34

Provisional Standings – 2023 Dakar Rally (after 11 of 14 stages)

1. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 38:47:43
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 38:48:11 +0:28
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 38:50:27 +2:44
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 39:01:57 +14:14
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 39:03:07 +15:24
Other KTM
9. Mason Klein (USA), KTM, 39:19:18 +31:35
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 39:32:28 +44:45


Source: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Laia Sanz completes the first part of the marathon stage.

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  • The Spaniard and her Italian co-driver, Maurizio Gerini, followed a conservative approach to get their ASTARA 01 to the bivouac in one piece, aware that they would not be able to count on assistance.
  • In a sea of very soft sand dunes, KH-7's lost an hour trying to restart the rally after getting snagged three times.
  • "Today was a very hard day, so we are very happy to have finished. We set out with the idea of arriving, which was the goal."

Laia Sanz has overcome the biggest hurdle of this second week in the Dakar Rally: the marathon stage. In fact, she has completed the first section, which took place this Thursday in the middle of the Empty Quarter desert in Saudi Arabia, but she still has another acid test: the second part, which promises to be as or more complicated than today. The 275 kilometers of the special were very demanding and put the KH-7 rider in trouble, who had to draw on her Dakar experience to reach the finish line in one piece, one hour and ten minutes after the first rider.

She had warned the day before: "We'll take it very easy". Said and done. The Spaniard has not been 12 times finisher of the Dakar Rally by chance, but because she knows how to measure her strength, calibrate the resistance of the mechanics and interpret like few others the difficulties and risks of the route. This is how she tackled the 11th stage, aware that tonight only she and co-driver Maurizio Gerini will be able to repair her ASTARA 01, as assistance is forbidden in the marathon.

For this reason, she wanted to be very conservative and avoid overtaxing the car. But the difficulties of the day were not limited to safeguarding the mechanics, but a sea of very tricky dunes came into play to make things difficult for the Spanish-Italian duo. Sanz and Gerini got stuck in the sand three times, losing an hour of time between the three of them.

The first snag was just before kilometer 89, where they stopped for a quarter of an hour; then they got stuck in the sand again at kilometer 189, which cost them another 20 minutes; and finally, around kilometer 215 they had to spend half an hour more to get going again.

This is how the Catalan driver summarizes the day: "Today has been a very hard day, so we are very happy to have finished. We went out with the idea of arriving, which was the goal, since it was the marathon stage and we could not gamble. We didn't push hard at all, but we got stuck three or four times. The sand was very soft and only with rear-wheel drive is more complicated. Even so, we can be happy after finding many people overturned or with problems".

Tomorrow, Friday, Sanz and Gerini will face the second part of the marathon, with a total distance of 373 kilometers and a timed section of 185 kilometers that, once again, will have complicated passes through the dunes.


Automatic translation from the original Spanish version
Source Laia Sanz / KH-7

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - De Baar can't find rhythm

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The first half of the marathon stage was a tough one, Pascal de Baar thought. "They had predicted that," he knew. "They often say that and then it's not so bad, but this time they were right." Despite getting stuck a few times in the dunes, the Riwald driver finished in third place of the day, 18 minutes behind stage winner Martin van den Brink.

The 275-kilometer stage featured varied terrain, with dunes and some fast trails. "As the day went on, the sand got looser and looser," De Baar noted. "It seemed like my diff wasn't working, but it probably wasn't."

Partly because of the variation, it was difficult to find a rhythm, De Baar found. "For me it didn't work well in any case. We also got stuck for a while about four times as a result. With the help of the air cushions we could get out again quickly, so that wasn't a big problem. And the rest had problems as well." Class leader Janus van Kasteren, for example, who ended up in a dune pan. "But I didn't see that one," De Baar said.

In the marathon bivouac, not far from the border with Oman and Abu Dhabi in the middle of nowhere, the assistance trucks and mechanics are not allowed, so the competitors in the race have to do everything themselves. "We will check everything carefully, but I don't expect to encounter any problems that we can't solve ourselves," De Baar said. The twelfth stage takes the competitors back to Shaybah. De Baar will start the race day as the third truck.


Automatic translation from the original Dutch version
Source Riwald Dakar Team

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Victory for Luciano Benavides at 2023 Dakar Rally

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On a hugely successful day 11 in the Saudi desert for Husqvarna Factory Racing, Luciano Benavides has claimed his third stage win of the event and in turn advances to sixth place overall in the event’s provisional overall standings. Leading those standings after an impressive ride to fourth place on today’s stage, Skyler Howes now holds a narrow 28-second lead at the top of the timesheets.

Marking the first half of the event’s marathon stage, deep into the Empty Quarter region, day 11 at Dakar saw riders complete a timed special of 274 kilometres, predominantly made up of a seemingly endless expanse of dunes. Of the two Husqvarna Factory Racing teammates it was Luciano Benavides who mastered the terrain the best, posting the fastest time to kilometre 63 and pushing hard from then on. Taking the stage win by an impressive one minute and 38 seconds also moves Luciano higher in the overall standings to sixth, where he trails rally leader and teammate Skyler Howes by 18 minutes.

Handling the pressure perfectly, Howes set off as the 18th rider into the special and immediately began to make up time on those ahead of him. Swapping the top two positions with his teammate for the first half of the stage, a few minor issues later on cost the American a little time, but he was still able to bring his FR 450 Rally safely back to the bivouac in fourth place. Retaking the overall rally lead and holding a near-30-second advantage over second-placed Toby Price, Howes will have the added benefit of chasing down his nearest rival on Friday’s stage 12.

Luciano Benavides: “It was a really, really nice stage. I enjoyed racing through the dunes and was able to make up good time, too. There was a big variety today, some of the dunes were really big and in between the ground was very hard to judge as well, with lots of softer areas that could catch you out. The navigation was not too difficult today, the challenge came from trying to find the fastest line through the dunes. I did a good job and was able to make up some more time, which is great. I’m leading out again tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Skyler Howes: “It was a really fast stage today with lots of dunes – lots of big dunes! I found a good rhythm out there and was making good progress. I did get stuck in the soft sand on a couple of dunes and had to turn around to attack those again. There was one waypoint that I had to circle around to get properly as well. The bike is in great condition, which is great for the marathon stage, I just need to stay focused because the times in the standings are really close. I think it’s going to be like this all the way to the finish, which makes it pretty exciting.”

2023 Dakar Rally – Stage 11 Provisional Classification

1. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 2:57:59
2. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 2:59:37
3. Toby Price (KTM) 2:59:55
4. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 3:00:08
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 3:00:53
6. Sebastian Buhler (Hero) 3:03:05

2023 Dakar – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 11]

1. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 38:47:43
2. Toby Price (KTM) 38:48:11
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 38:50:27
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) 39:01:57
5. Adrien Van Beveren (Honda) 39:03:07
6. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 39:05:49


Source Husqvarna Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Joan Font saves a complicated special stage in the desert

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  • The Catalan rider is ranked 20th in the T3 category in the first part of the marathon stage in the Empty Quarter.
  • Together with Themis Lopez, the FN Speed Team rider climbs to 16th place overall, just outside the Top 15.
  • "A very difficult stage, with a lot of very choppy dunes, in one of which we have a wheel that went off the road. But the balance is perfect and there are only three days left".

The inhospitable Empty Quarter has put the caravan of Dakar 2023 survivors in check, but Joan Font has managed to save the first part of the marathon stage (without assistance) in the Rub al-Jali desert. His reward was a substantial jump in the general standings in the T3 category. Together with Themis Lopez, the FN Speed Team team placed 20th in the 275-kilometer special stage, a result that puts the Can-Am number 318 in 16th place overall among the light prototypes.

Thursday's stage took the competitors from Shaybah to... nowhere. Desert pure and simple. Dunes, sand and wide dry lakes were the ingredients of a menu that Joan Font described as "very difficult", and where he was not spared from a setback ultimately without serious repercussions. "There were a lot of very choppy dunes, and in one of them we had a wheel slip", he explained, after having spent 4 hours and 23 minutes to complete the special, one hour behind the day's winner.

The rider from Vic also had the opportunity to show his Dakar spirit. As they did on the sixth stage, Font and Lopez stopped to help another side-by-side of the FN Speed team, who was having mechanical problems. The lost time did not prevent the Doga and Racing Oil team from finishing the day's stage in the Top 20 for the third time in this Dakar. Thus, the Catalan driver and his Aragonese co-driver climbed four positions in the T3 general standings compared to the one they occupied the day before, placing them just outside the Top 15.

Overall, Font does not hesitate to make a "perfect" balance of the day. "There are no easy days and everyone is going very fast, but we are here, well placed, and there are only three days left", says the former Spanish gravel rally champion. The first of them will be the second part of the marathon stage, which on Friday will take the participants from the bivouac, in the middle of the Empty Quarter, back to Shaybah, with a 185-kilometer special stage.


Source FN Speed

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Second place for Sanders on leg one of the Dakar Rally Marathon stage

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  • Chucky posts his third top-three stage result at this year’s Dakar
  • Leg one of the marathon stage done and dusted
  • Three more days of racing remain at the 2023 Dakar Rally

Marathon stage, leg one at the Dakar complete and it was a pretty positive day of racing for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders. As the 12th rider into the 274-kilometer timed special, Sanders benefitted from chasing the leading riders on stage and capitalized on his starting position to post the second-fastest time. In the process, Chucky closed the gap on the overall leaders and now advances to seventh in the provisional standings. With three stages to go, a top-five finish at this year’s event is well within reach.

Daniel Sanders: “Today wasn’t too bad. It took a little while for me to get up to speed and then at around kilometer 40 there was a tricky note in the roadbook. I slowed up a little to make sure I was heading in the right direction and then pushed on to refueling. After that I rode with Luciano Benavides for the rest of the stage which was good, and it was a good gauge of knowing the speed up front. Second’s decent enough ahead of tomorrow’s shorter stage. I’ve just checked the bike over, all the fluids and everything, and it’s in great shape so I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”

The marathon stage at the Dakar is always a tough one for riders as they need to strike a fine balance between posting the best time possible on leg one, while making sure their bike remains in good shape for leg two. For Sanders, placing second was clearly a strong result and after giving his bike a quick once over ahead of tomorrow’s stage 11, Chucky, and his awesome RX 450F, are now ready for another day of sand surfing through the Empty Quarter.

Results (provisional): Dakar Rally 2023, stage 11
1. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 2:57:59
2. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 2:59:37
3. Toby Price (KTM) 2:59:55

Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 11)
1. Skyler Howes (Husqvarna) 38:47:43
2. Toby Price (KTM) 38:48:11
3. Kevin Benavides (KTM) 38:50:27
7. Daniel Sanders (GASGAS) 39:09:23


Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - All three TGR crews record clean runs in Dakar Marathon stage

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  • Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel maintain lead of more than 1hr 20min
  • Three stages remain in Dakar 2023
  • Out-leg of Marathon Stage completed successfully

Stage 11 of the 2023 Dakar Rally saw competitors race away from the bivouac at Shaybah, in the southeastern part of Saudi Arabia, to a remote bivouac in the Empty Quarter. The competitors have no technical support at the remote bivouac, and have to affect any repairs needed to their cars themselves. However, all three TOYOTA GAZOO Racing crews reported clean runs in their GR DKR Hilux T1+ race cars, bringing a sigh of relief to the entire team.
The fastest of the TGR crews over the 275km-long Stage 11 was overall race leaders, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel. The defending champions were 5th-fastest on the day, trailing the stage winners by just 6min 42sec. Their lead over the second-placed crew is currently 1hr 21min 04sec, with three stages remaining in this year’s race.
Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings continued their good form on Stage 11, recording another faultless stage. The pair are in fourth place overall, and relinquished 7min 22sec to the winners on the stage down to the remote bivouac in the Empty Quarter. Their deficit to the leaders is 1hr 49min 17sec, and they are within 19min of a podium position, despite losing significant time with a broken damper earlier in the rally.
The final TGR pairing of Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy were plagued by punctures earlier in the race, but now that the terrain has become sandier, they have been recording clean stages. On the stage to the Empty Quarter, they went 6th-fastest, 10min 04sec behind the stage winners. They remain in 5th overall, 2hr 14min 18sec behind Nasser and Mathieu.
Next up is Stage 12, which will see the competitors return to the Shaybah bivouac via a timed section of 185. There will also be a closing liaison of 167km, joining the end of the stage to the encampment.
For TGR, all three GR DKR Hilux T1+ race cars have now completed more than 7,000 kilometres, with very few technical challenges. Notably, the standard 3.5 litre twin-turbo V6 engine from the new Toyota Land Cruiser 300 has remained fully reliable despite the extreme terrain and conditions, testimony to the quality, durability and reliability that is part of Toyota’s DNA.
Stage 12 is one of the three closing stages of the race, with Stage 13 taking the rally from Shaybah to Al-Hofuf. This will be followed by the final stage from Hofuf to the coastal city of Dammam on January 15th, bringing the 45th edition of the Dakar Rally to a close after 14 tough stages.

Glyn Hall, TGR Dakar Team Principal: “The great news today is that all three our cars got through the first part of the Marathon Stage without any drama – always a worry at this point in the race. Nasser maintained his lead comfortably, while Henk and Giniel posted solid stage results to hold steady in their respective positions in the overall standings. Next up is the wait to see them back here in the bivouac at Shaybah, following Stage 12.”

Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Everything went to plan today for us. We don’t have to push at all, since we have enough time in hand, so the main goal today was to make sure the car is in perfect condition for tomorrow.”

Giniel de Villiers: “There were some tricky dune crossings in the stage, but overall things went okay for us. We just tried to have a clean run and not make any mistakes, and we’re happy to be here at the remote bivouac without any problems.”

Henk Lategan: “It was tricky in the dunes, and we decided to take it easy today. We’ve still been learning more about the dunes, so the last few days have been difficult for us, and we expect more of the same for the next few days. We’re just taking it easy and gaining experience at this point.”

Source Toyota Gazoo Racing SA

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Playing hard at the empty quarter

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It is the highlight of a week of action in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. The Dakar Rally 2023 finally reached today the immense sea of dunes known as the Empty Quarter. With a special reddish-orange color, this is the largest continuous sand territory in the world – with its 1000 kilometers long and 500 km wide.  This was the landscape to the marathon stage of this year’s race (stage 11), starting early this morning from Shaybah and arriving less than three hours later in the heart of this region.
This morning the counter of the Honda’s CRF 450 Rally marked 4,000 kilometers of specials right after the start, with 273 km of the selective section (added by a liaison of 151 km) to complete during the marathon stage. On the arrival our riders were their own in terms of assistance, since they won’t have any mechanics or external help.
Monster Energy Honda Team riders are fighting to evolve in the top standings. Today the best was Pablo Quintanilla, with a fifth place 2:54 minutes off the pace. This performance meant a step up in the overall standings to fourth position. Second was José Ignacio Cornejo, who finished in 14th place 8:13 minutes off the pace (8th overall). Adrien Van Beveren was opening the track and reached the end in 18th place, meaning a 5th place overall.
The second part of the marathon stage will take place tomorrow with the return to Shaybah on stage 12. Along the 185 km of this selective section (added by a liaison of 188 km) there will be a focus on the tactical acumen of the riders. With just three days to go in this Dakar Rally 2023 it is certainly time to attack in every dune!
Ruben Faria - General Manager: “Today we had a very hard stage, the biggest one in the Empty Quarter with the first part of the marathon. We are behind the top 3 but I believe we are still in contention to change that. In the previous days we have been losing and gaining time like it is normal, but we lost too much time in the first six days. We lost Ricky Brabec, a Dakar winner, quite early and that was also a blow to our aspirations. About today’s stage, Adrien was great opening the track - he lost some time but that we already expected like it is normal. Nacho got lost in the middle of the special stage. Pablo also had a good stage but will be in front tomorrow. All riders arrived well and the Honda CRF 450 Rally is also perfect to continue. This is the Dakar Rally and we have to fight and believe until the end of the race!”
Pablo Quintanilla  7: "It was not an easy day, the sand was too soft and sometimes it was hard to climb the dunes. Anyway I was at a good pace and I think I did a good stage. The first part of the marathon stage is done and my Honda CRF 450 Rally is without any damage, so I am ready to continue tomorrow.”
José Ignacio Cornejo  11: “I made some navigation mistakes and lost around eight minutes. I am not happy about that, but that's what it is. I will stay focused on climbing on the overall standings and keep fighting until the end. This is Dakar and I have to maintain my goal. ”
Adrien Van Beveren  42: “It was a good day, I caught Ross at kilometer 40 then I opened almost all the stage. I feel good and I feel fast on this terrain but when you open you always lose time. For sure I am doing my best every day and every minute and we will see how it goes.”
Source Monster Energy Honda Team
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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Mário Patrão wins stage in the Dakar Rally

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The World Cross Country Rallies Veterans Champion, Mário Patrão conquered today an important victory in the 45th edition of the Dakar Rally 2023 when he was the fastest among the Original by Motul competitors in the 273 km timed stage that linked Shaybah to Empty Quarter.

The pilot supported by CRÉDITO AGRÍCOLA, who is also European Champion in Bajas and Rally Raid, is competing in the class known as "Malle Moto", always highly praised in this great off-road marathon, where pilots have to do their own assistance, having only the material that follows in a box that the Dakar organization carries to each bivouac.

The demand and hardness of participation in this category have been a real challenge that the pilot supported by LUSÍADAS SAÚDE has overcome in an exemplary way. In the refueling break Mário Patrão told us that "the stage was very much my way and I felt confident to take risks and print more speed. I didn't make any navigational errors and I got the victory after so much fight. I dedicate this victory to Paulo Gonçalves, he will always be among us."

Tomorrow, the 12th and antepenultimate stage is disputed. The journey that will take the opposite route to the previous stage (Empty Quarter - Shaybah) will have a total of 376.46 km, 185 of which will be timed, on a course marked by many dunes.


Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version available on
Source Mario Patrão official press release

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Dakar 2023: Stage 11 - Isidre Esteve makes it through the first part of the marathon despite a setback

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  • The Repsol Toyota Rally Team drivers completed a difficult 11th stage of the Dakar Rally with a delay of just over three hours after getting stuck twice in the dunes and having a technical problem.
  • Co-driver Txema Villalobos had an extra helping of work in the sand, but his expertise allowed the team to get back on track and reach the bivouac, where mechanics are not allowed to assist tonight.
  • "Although it has not been a good day, the positive thing is that we are in the bivouac, when we could perfectly well be sleeping in the dunes," says Esteve.

Isidre Esteve and Txema Villalobos have finished the first half of the marathon stage of the Dakar Rally, drawn in the dreaded Empty Quarter, after overcoming an extreme situation in the Saudi dunes. A technical mishap that prevented the Repsol Toyota Rally Team car's engine from restarting, coupled with two snags in the dunes, tested the expertise and mechanical skills of the Spanish team, which after more than three hours of repairs in the middle of the special stage managed to reach the finish line at the bivouac to continue the race tomorrow.

The first segment of the marathon stage predicted great difficulties, both in terms of navigation and the very nature of the route, which alternated fast zones with sand and dune sections. Isidre Esteve and Txema Villalobos got through the first half of the special stage at a very good pace, making up ground compared to yesterday's stage, which gave way to the light buggies (T3 and T4). However, at kilometer 180 the first challenge arrived, as the driver from Lleida said: "We jumped over a dune without any major problem, but when I landed I stalled the car. When I tried to start it again, the starter motor didn't work. Luckily we were going downhill, so when Txema removed sand from the wheels, a push was enough to revive the mechanics and keep going". The first difficulty was overcome, but at the cost of a major handicap: the Spanish crew could not put the Toyota back in the water, and there was still a long stretch of sand to overcome...

"The last dune of the day had a double ridge at the top, and when I jumped the first one I got stuck on the second one with the car hanging. At this point, Txema immediately set to work to dismantle everything to find the problem and get the car running again, an operation that took him more than three hours. But after repairing it, we were able to reach the finish line. Although it was not a good day, the positive thing is that we are at the bivouac, because we could have been sleeping in the dunes", concludes Isidre Esteve.

The time lost has relegated the Repsol Toyota Rally Team to 112th place on the day, 44th among the T1s, 3 hours and 26 minutes behind the stage winner. This breaks the extraordinary progression in the general classification of the last few days, and the drivers supported by Repsol, MGS Seguros, KH-7 and Toyota Spain drop back to 36th place in the overall car classification, although they remain in 25th place among the T1s.

As this is a marathon stage, Esteve and Villalobos will not have the support of the Repsol Toyota Rally Team mechanics tonight, so they will have to repair the Toyota Hilux T1+ with their own means. The reunion with the entire technical team will take place at the end of tomorrow's stage, which will finish in Shaybah after 185 km timed.


Automatic translation from the original Spanish version available on
Source Repsol Rally Team

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