Dakar 2018 Day 12 Results

A slightly more normal stage as Price wins, Brabec fourth

Matthias Walkner
Matthias Walkner went into stage 10 with a 22-second lead and came out with a whopping margin of nearly 40 minutes. In stage 11, he was able to ride relatively conservatively to a fifth-place finish yet still has 32 minutes over new runner-up Kevin Benavides. Dakar is now his to lose with just three stages remaining.DAKAR.COM

Stage 11 in the 40th Dakar Rally saw things return to more normal proceedings compared to stage 10. The first half of the second and final marathon stage for motorcycles (meaning no spare parts or team mechanics at the bivouac so the riders must conserve their bikes and especially the tires to last two consecutive days) began in Belén, Argentina, and ended in Fiambalá after 205 kilometers of liaison or transfer section and a timed special stage of 280 kilometers.

In addition, this stage featured an unusual start where the 10 best cars and 10 fastest motorcycles started in alternate order three minutes apart according to their stage 10 finish. The rest of the field started at two-minute intervals. This provided the rare sight of car leader Stephane Peterhansel—a multi-time winner on bikes as well as in cars—lining up just ahead of Matthias Walkner, who later caught and dueled with him briefly.

After getting lost (along with several other top riders), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team's Toby Price set out at a blazing pace, the 2016 race winner intent on putting his 19th-place finish in stage 10 behind him and gunning for a podium in the stage if not the overall finish. In winning today's stage, he moved from 50-plus minutes and fifth place behind overall leader Walkner to third overall, 39:17 behind his teammate from Austria.

Toby Price
One of several riders who got tremendously lost yesterday, Toby Price made amends today, attacking from the outset to grab the stage lead early and power through the rest of the day for his first triumph of this edition of Dakar. The 2016 race winner is now third overall in the provisional overall standings.DAKAR.COM

“Yesterday was… I’ve never felt so bad in my life,” Price confided in Fiambalá. “Today we just needed to try and see if we could claw back a little bit of time, and I think we’ve done that a little bit, but it’s going to be tough from back where we are. It’s good to get a stage win.

“In the first week I was quite conservative, but now I attacked some more; it’s good to get a stage win because I hadn’t done that this year so far. To be still in the race going toward the finish line is a pretty big achievement for me. My goal is just trying to stay on two wheels, not making a day like yesterday and seeing what that gives us at the finish line.”

Walkner remains solidly in control of the rally and could afford to ride more conservatively, placing fifth today after being the first finisher physically and sitting atop the overall leader board at 36:33:37.

Monster Energy Honda Team's Kevin Benavides continued to give his fellow Argentineans much hope as he rode to second in the stage, just 1:38 behind Price. Benavides is now second in the standings, 32 minutes behind Walkner, after teammate Joan Barreda conceded the race and dropped out—the combined effects of his four-day-old knee injury, mild concussion from one of his crashes here, a pre-race wrist injury, heat, demanding terrain, and getting lost early in the stage forcing him into the frustrating decision. (Notably, Dakar veteran Stefan Svitko of Slovakia also dropped out today despite holding eighth overall following a huge get-off yesterday.)

Things went much better for the Americans as well. Fueled by anger at getting lost yesterday, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Ricky Brabec knew his only option was to sprint and he did well, working his way through the pack to finish the stage fourth-fastest, less than eight minutes behind Price. Brabec’s Baja racing and pre-running experience may have helped as starting from far back in the order he had lots of beat-up trail from previous car/truck traffic to negotiate.

Ricky Brabec
Having lost a massive amount of time while lost yesterday—a plight he shared with several other top riders—Ricky Brabec knew his only option for the rest of the race was to go all out, starting with stage 11, parts of which looked a little like home for the SoCal high-desert resident. He finished the stage fourth and moved up a spot to sixth overall, provisionally.DAKAR.COM

With teammate Barreda out, Brabec moved up a spot to sixth in the provisional overall at 37:51:47 or about 39 minutes off Price’s third-place time.

“I am much happier than when I finished yesterday, which had been a nightmare to try to find that cursed waypoint,” Brabec declared. “I feel fine; the bike is running really well, too. We’ll continue fighting to finish this Dakar as best we can. I hope Joan gets well and improves soon.”

Andrew Short
The American with the best result in stage 10 (though not by much as he was only 37 seconds ahead of seventh-place Mark Samuels), Andrew Short put in another solid ride in the first half of the second marathon stage. Once again, he finished just ahead of Samuels in 13th and is 17th in the provisional overall classification.DAKAR.COM

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team's Andrew Short, on the other hand, did well in stage 10 despite a high-speed get-off and kept that momentum going today where he finished the stage with the 13th-fastest time. The Dakar rookie now sits 17th overall at 39:40:08 and had this to say: "One more exhausting rally stage is in the books, and we're getting closer to the finish. Tonight we'll have to prepare our bikes by ourselves to get them ready for stage 12 tomorrow.

“Everything is going well for me so far; I keep learning and improving. This event is a huge experience for me, and my mind now is focused on crossing the finish line on Saturday. We’ve all worked really hard this last couple of weeks and it will be like seeing all the hard work pay off when we reach Córdoba. There are three more stages to go and I’ll do my best to stay focused on my goals.”

As he did yesterday, Mark Samuels proved to be the closest competitor to Short, the MEC Team Honda CRF450 Rally-mounted Baja racer just five seconds slower at the finish—the 14th-best time of the day—and sitting 22nd overall at 42:19:05. Samuels has now managed to put a little gap between himself and Shane Esposito, who was 23rd in the stage on his Duust Rally Team KTM 450 Rally Replica and occupies 26th overall at 43:38:18.

Bill Conger is looking more and more likely to get his first Dakar finish. He was 68th in the stage and holds 67th overall in 60:31:35.

The last half of the final marathon stage will be another hot, sandy day in Argentina, with 348 kilometers of liaison and 375 kilometers of special as the remaining competitors race from Fiambalá to San Juan, site of the 2014 ISDE.

Kevin Benavides
Kevin Benavides may have the best chance of dethroning Matthias Walkner as the overall leader, but he has 32 minutes to make up and just three stages left to do that in. The fact that he’ll be racing in front of fellow Argentineans the rest of the way may help—or the pressure may be too much and he could make a navigational error as he did yesterday or even crash out as previous leader Adrien Van Beveren did yesterday with less than two miles to the finish. Anything can happen at Dakar.DAKAR.COM
Ranking Rider Number Rider Team Overall Time Time From Leader Penalty
1 2 Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Team 36:33:37 00:01:00
2 47 Kevin Benavides Monster Energy Honda Team 37:05:37 00:32:00
3 8 Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Team 37:12:54 00:39:17
4 3 Gerard Farrés Guell Himoinsa Racing Team 37:22:54 00:49:17
5 9 Antoine Méo Red Bull KTM Factory Team 37:32:42 00:59:05 00:01:00
6 20 Ricky Brabec Monster Energy Honda Team 37:51:47 01:18:10
7 40 Johnny Aubert GasGas Motorsport 38:23:11 01:49:34 00:19:00
8 10 Pablo Quintanilla Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 38:26:56 01:53:19
9 68 Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo Monster Energy Honda Team 38:39:34 02:05:57
10 61 Oriol Mena Hero Motosports Team Rally 38:46:44 02:13:07
17 54 Andrew Short Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 39:40:08 03:06:31
22 64 Mark Samuels MEC Team 42:19:05 05:45:28 01:00:00
26 103 Shane Esposito Duust Rally Team 43:38:18 07:04:41 02:05:00
67 105 Bill Conger Klymciw Racing 60:31:35 23:57:58