Dakar 2022, Stage 11: Sunderland retakes lead ahead of final day
Sam Sunderland will lead the Dakar Rally's bikes contest heading into the final day after narrowly missing out on winning the penultimate stage of the rally to Kevin Benavides.
Dubai-based Briton Sunderland has put himself in a strong position to clinch a second Dakar crown with a solid run on Thursday's 346km loop around Bisha, as several of his main rivals in the general classification lost considerable ground due to navigational woes.
The GasGas rider led for most of the stage but dropped time following the penultimate waypoint to miss out on a second win of the rally by a mere four seconds to Benavides, who rejoined the event after his retirement on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, Sunderland will take a lead of 6m52s into Friday's relatively short final stage from Bisha to Jeddah.
Yamaha's Adrien van Beveren led Sunderland by almost six minutes overnight, but was fourth in the running order for Friday and suffered accordingly - along with the three riders starting ahead of him, Stage 10 winner Toby Price (KTM), Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) and Joan Barreda (Honda).
Van Beveren lost the least time of this group, but still haemorrhaged some 21 minutes to Sunderland.
The upshot is that the Frenchman has fallen to fourth overall, 15m30s off the lead, with Pablo Quintanilla (Honda) moving up to second and Matthias Walkner (KTM) gaining third, 7m15s down.
Quintanilla's chances of giving Honda a third successive Dakar crown were given a minor boost when it was ruled that the speeding penalties handed down to both the Chilean and Barreda on Wednesday would be halved.
This gave Quintanilla back one minute of the two he had lost, but it didn't affect his or Barreda's position in the running order.
Barreda on the other hand looks to be all but out of contention as he sits fifth and almost 28 minutes behind Sunderland.
Fellow Honda riders Ricky Brabec and Jose Ignacio Cornejo now lie sixth and seventh, the pair both jumping clear of Yamaha's Andrew Short and KTM privateer Mason Klein.
Price, despite dropping a massive 31 minutes on the stage, holds the final place in the top 10.
Standings after Stage 11:
|4||42||Adrien van Beveren||YAMAHA||37:19:35||+00:15:30||00:00:00|
|7||11||Jose Ignacio Cornejo||HONDA||37:45:07||+00:41:02||00:00:00|
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