LOEB Sébastien (fra), Bahrain Raid Xtreme, Prodrive Hunter, FIA Ultimate, portraitduring the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2024 on January 18, 2024 between Al Ula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

The terrain proves decisive! With more than 4,700 kilometres of specials over two weeks of racing, it is
still possible to predict where the victory will be won. The dunes of the Empty Quarter definitely played
an important role, while the volcanic stones on the first stage also played a part. Indeed, we could list
the damage recorded on each of the stages in one category or another. However, there was no escaping
that the journey from AlUla to Yanbu was a significant step, the moment of truth for the pretenders to the
crown. Over the 420 kilometres against the clock, the leaders were intent on holding strong and their
pursuers were determined to attack. Ricky Brabec was equal to the task, still unshakeable despite
Ross Branch’s stage victory, and Carlos Sainz was able to take advantage of Sébastien Loeb’s

SERRADORI Mathieu (fra), SRT, Century CR6-T, Motul, FIA Ultimate, FIA W2RC, portrait during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2024 on January 18, 2024 between Al Ula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

Everything was still possible… but only relatively speaking in the bike category, in which the Monster
Energy Honda Team had locked up the leader’s position for Ricky Brabec. With the pact accepted by
all the reds, there was still the issue of second place to be settled, a place accessible to Adrien Van
Beveren, who is on top form, or also Nacho Cornejo, both of whom started the day less than 4 minutes
behind Ross Branch. The Chilean’s case was settled after 111 km, where he had to struggle with his
bike to solve a fuel pump problem. In the meantime, the South African Hero rider, who was the fifth biker
to start, took advantage to climb up the stage rankings and grab his second win of the week, while
gaining a little on Brabec, skilfully protecting his second place in the general rankings. Adrien Van
Beveren also kept hold of his third place, despite a major fright when an unexpected encounter with a
herd of dromedaries ended with a heavy tumble. There were no more twists in the tale on two wheels,
but the plot developments in the Ultimate class of the car category were even more spectacular, with
the duel between Sainz and Loeb causing live tracking addicts to break out in cold sweats throughout
the day. As Loeb’s adventures unfolded (see A crushing blow), the race scenarios changed several
times. The BRX driver was able to save his place on the podium but owes this chiefly to the first major
setback experienced on the Dakar by Lucas Moraes. With a time loss of more than two hours, the
Brazilian came down to earth with a bang, from 3rd place to 9th place in the race hierarchy, to be precise.
On the contrary, Guerlain Chicherit, still demonstrating fine pace at the end of this edition of the Dakar,
continued to climb up the rankings and has now reached 4th place thanks to a second consecutive
stage success won as an opener. To climb onto the podium tomorrow, he will have to gain 7 minutes
over 175 kilometres from Sébastien Loeb, while opening once again, which is far from a simple

231 DUMAS Romain (fra), DELFINO Max (fra), Rebellion Racing, Toyota Hilux, FIA Ultimate, action during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2024 on January 18, 2024 between Al Ula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

In the Challenger class, it is very unlikely that Mitch Guthrie will fall from the top of the category thanks
to his 25-minute lead over Cristina Gutiérrez, but the couple formed by Nicolás Cavigliasso and
Valentina Pertegarini will be looking for a hat-trick tomorrow after winning a second consecutive stage
(See performance of the day). However, Xavier de Soultrait will have to keep a very close eye on his
nearest pursuer in the SSV race hierarchy, namely Jérôme de Sadeleer, who is 2’49’’ behind the
Frenchman. In the truck race, despite the 10th stage win of his career, Aleš Loprais has still not
managed to bring the time between himself and Martin Macík to below two hours. The latter will have
the honour of flying the Czech flag at the top of the final general rankings and proudly draping himself
in its folds on the podium in Yanbu tomorrow evening.

605 SOLTYS Martin (cze), SIKOLA Tomas (cze), SCHWEINER Petr (cze), Tatra Buggyra ZM Racing, Tatra Buggyra, FIA Truck, action during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2024 on January 18, 2024 between Al Ula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

To play a major role on the Dakar, Nicolás Cavigliasso would have had to have begun his
demonstration a little earlier in the race, quite like he did when he made his debut in the quad category
and finished 2nd on his first participation in 2018, before majestically winning the following year. Many
observers remember the podium ceremony in Lima, when the Argentinean proposed to a young lady.
Valentina, who insisted on keeping her maiden name of Pertegarini, is now sat in the co-pilot seat of
the Challenger driven by Nicolás. This was already the case last year, but the two newcomers to the
class suffered too many technical problems to reach the finish in the official rankings. However, this year
they are setting the record straight with panache. Admittedly they are some way down the general
rankings, but they have managed to win two times in a row, which is a first for a crew bound by the oath
of marriage!

207 EKSTROM Mattias (swe), BERGKVIST Emil (swe), Team Audi Sport, Audi RS Q E-Tron E2, FIA Ultimate, aFIA W2RC, ction during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2024 on January 18, 2024 between Al Ula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

Sébastien Loeb has experienced sufficient joys and sorrows on the Dakar to fill an adventure novel.
The French driver has enhanced his roll of honour with plenty of stage wins and has envisioned himself
winning the race as many times as he has actually lost it. The tracks to Yanbu became another of his
roads to ruin on which his chances of victory were crushed, the day after he amazingly breathed new
life into his battle with Carlos Sainz. This morning, with 13 minutes to make up on risky terrain, Loeb
had an opportunity to pressure his rival into a mistake. Despite the puncture problems he encountered
on the first and tenth stage, the hunter did not hesitate in going on all-out attack to hoover up the bunches
of seconds he required. It was not the tyres that put paid to his hopes, however, but too brutal a landing
after a jump, which broke his front-wheel axel unit after 132 km. Without any immediate solution, the
man from Alsace seemed condemned to wait for his assistance team and lose a number of hours as a
result. Providence arrived, nevertheless, in the form of the Hunter driven by Chinese driver Yungang
Zi, who was kind enough to give up the part that allowed the former WRC champion to try and keep his
place on the podium. To do so, he had to reach the finishing line without delay and avoid punctures. In
the end, Loeb stopped three times and completed the stage with his wheels in a terrible state, but did
enough to save his third place, leaving him 7 minutes ahead of Guerlain Chicherit.

203 LOEB Sébastien (fra), LURQUIN Fabian (bel), Bahrain Raid Xtreme, Prodrive Hunter, FIA Ultimate, action during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2024 on January 18, 2024 between Al Ula and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

36. After 4260 kilometres against the clock for the bikers, general rankings leader Ricky Brabec is now
the rider who has spent the most time opening the way, either alone or accompanied. The American has
spent 1530 kilometres physically out in front, which amounts to 36% of the timed sections, followed by
Nacho Cornejo, with 1435 kilometres (34%) and Adrien Van Beveren, with 1137 kilometres (27%). It
is the same Honda trio, but this time in a different order, for the amount of kilometres spent alone opening
the way. For this exercise, Van Beveren has spent the most time in front alone, with 619 kilometres,
ahead of Brabec (526 km) and Cornejo (398 km). The HRC bikers have literally been the leading men
when it comes to opening on this edition of the Dakar. By way of comparison, Ross Branch has opened
for 284 kilometres (7%) and only 41 kilometres alone, which is 15 times less than his rival for second
place, Van Beveren, or 13 times less than Brabec.

Ross Branch: “Ricky is riding an amazing race”.
Ross Branch won his 2nd stage of the year after his victory on stage 1. He has finished ahead of Brabec
and Van Beveren, the other two strong men of this year’s race, but was unable to make any significant
inroads on Brabec, while staying clear of Van Beveren. “It was way better than last year’s same stage.
I enjoyed it, it was good fun. For sure, it was a tough stage and really, really rocky all the time, but I
enjoyed it and tried to put the hammer down. I think I’ve left it a little bit too late. Ricky is riding an
amazing race and he deserves to be where he is. We’ve just got to keep on fighting and see what we
can do for tomorrow, for the last day. I definitely lost time in the camel grass. I’ve got a bit of work to do
in the camel grass and the off-piste stuff. I’m just not confident and fast enough there. I know where I’ve
lost it and it gives me motivation to go home and I’ll have another year to work on it. First thing on the
list is going to find some camel grass and doing some training there. It’s always good knowing you’ve
got somebody behind you with the same bike, if there’s something that you need then they’re there
quickly, but I don’t think it changed the race, I don’t think it changed the strategy. We just gave it our best
all day, every day and I’m proud of the team, they’ve worked so hard. Just to finish is going to be a big
bonus for us. If we can get on that podium that will be really cool for all of us. They’ve worked really hard
and I take my hat of to them, with the endless hours they’ve done. I’ve also worked hard and to
everybody back home, for all the support, it’s been incredible. There’s one more day to go, 180 km of
the Dakar 2024, so let’s enjoy it. I’m not too sure of the times, I’m not too sure of what happened to
Nacho. You know, we don’t get on the bike to finish second. So, we’ll give it our all and hope for the
Lorenzo Traglio and his Nissan Pathfinder, decked out in Tecnosport colours, perhaps pulled off a
masterstroke today. With 797 points to Carlos Santaolalla Milla’s 791 this morning, the Italian managed
to draw close up to the strong man of the first week. This evening, on the shores of the Red Sea, a
single point separates the two crews, for whom the last stage tomorrow will be nothing like a mere
parade on the shores of Lac Rose, like when the race was contested in Africa. At the time, there was a
saying that the Dakar was never won before reaching Dakar. Tomorrow, to pay the tribute he dreams of
paying to his father Maurizio, head of Tecnosport in the 1990s, Lorenzo will have to get hold of more
than one point before reaching Yanbu.

Brabec and Honda aim for the top
Ricky Brabec and Honda can take the upper hand in the FIM rankings tomorrow. On the W2RC, the
American was already runner-up in 2022, before 9th place last season. For Ross Branch, who is aiming
for 2nd place in the general rankings tomorrow, it will be an unprecedented position, after 4th in 2023
following 13th in 2022. However, for Adrien Van Beveren, the 3rd place which seems to be promised
to him is exactly the same position that the Frenchman picked up on the last two seasons. As it stands,
Honda will take the lead in the constructors’ championship, thanks to the combined performances of
Brabec and Van Beveren, which will give the brand 62 points. The sole rider left competing for Hero
MotoSports will put the Indian brand in second place with 30 points.