The 11th special stage finished on Thursday – the second of the “super marathon” distance and the penultimate in the DAKAR program. The finish line is getting closer, so even the slightest mistake can cost a good result – there is simply no time to fix it.
During the current stage of the DAKAR that is being held in the territory of Saudi Arabia for the first time, the field had to drive 379 competitive kilometers and a 365-kilometer liaison. And only after that all the racing vehicles return to the bivouac in Haradh, where mechanics are waiting, ready to start maintenance and repair.
After the 10th stage, absolutely all participants independently prepared their cars, bikes and quads for today's special stage that again passed through the sands and dunes of the Rub’ al Khali desert.
The first half of the “super marathon” stage was carried out along the route from Haradh to Shubaytah. The second part is the return trip from Shubaytah to Haradh. But despite the coincidence of the end points, the route of the two days is completely different. The field proceeded through the Rub’ al Khali desert in the footsteps of “black gold” seekers who laid the foundations for exploring the region. And the only thing that makes the tracks of two days similar is the fact that they are laid through sands and dunes.
Moreover, the first 80 kilometers of the 379-kilometer special stage are the largest dunes of Saudi Arabia. At the 10th stage, the desert did not obey the participants - the special stage had to be greatly reduced. Today, the drivers and riders have had the second attempt.
Unlike the first part of the marathon special stage, the second turned out to be much calmer – there were no sensations at the finish line. The best time in the Truck standings was set by the race leader Andrey Karginov. Three other KAMAZ-master team drivers finished following him – Dmitry Sotnikov, Anton Shibalov and Eduard Nikolaev. Four Russian team crews finished quite close – their results are in 4 minutes and 18 seconds.
The fifth time was set by the MAZ-SPORTauto team crew of Sergey VYAZOVICH. The Belarusian driver lagged behind the special stage winner by 12 minutes 15 seconds that is a good result, given the previous day breakdowns.
His teammate Alexey VISHNEVSKIY has finished at today's special stage with the 11th result, and Alexander VASILEVSKIY became the 14th, still playing the role of “fast technical vehicle”.
On the eve of the final DAKAR day, Andrey Karginov is leading the race, forty minutes ahead of Anton Shibalov, who is the second. Sergey VYAZOVICH, performing in the bonneted MAZ truck with the G-Energy logo on board, is the third. He loses a little over one hour to Shibalov, and in turn ahead of Dmitry Sotnikov by 57 minutes.
WHAT PARTICIPANTS WILL FIND TOMORROW
The final DAKAR stage will not be an easy walk to the finish podium – it is a full segment of the distance with the length of 447 kilometers, 374 of which will be competitive ones. Having taken the start in Haradh, the rally-marathon participants will have to get to the entertainment city-park Qiddiya that is being built forty-five kilometers from Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
The most important thing for drivers and riders on Friday is to keep their temper and not rush headlong to the attack. It is unlikely to win back any significant lag, but it is very possible to worsen one’s position. Moreover, a variety of road conditions will be presented at the special stage – about half of the route is laid through sands and dunes, a third – on gravel and stones, and the rest the racers will pass on asphalt.
At the end of the twelfth stage, the marathon participants will tackle another test, but its results will not be included in the DAKAR general classification – we are talking about the Qiddiya Grand Prix, the 20-kilometer race.
It will take place from 11:00 to 16:00 local time around the Qiddiya park territory. All DAKAR participants who will be able to get to the rally marathon finish line on their own will start at this race. However, the Dakar Experience standings competitors will not take part in the support race.
One of the most important objects on the Qiddiya territory is the race circuit. Therefore, it is not surprising that eminent circuit drivers and riders were invited as special guests to the Finish ceremony to support the Qiddiya Grand Prix and the DAKAR.
Loris Capirossi, three-time World Champion in motorcycle racing; Damon Hill, Formula 1 World Champion; David Coulthard Formula 1 Vice Champion; Alex Wurz and Nico Hulkenberg, the 24 Hours of Le Mans marathon winners, as well as Romain Grosjean, Formula 1 multiple stage winner, will welcome the two-week cross-country marathon participants.
The Ceremonial finish of the DAKAR rally will officially begin at 11:00 – the “Dakar rally village” will officially open. From 12:00 the first participants will start to enter the finish podium. The prize giving ceremony start is scheduled for 19:00. And then the concert program will begin, where finally all the drivers and riders, as well as the technicians of the teams will be able to relax after two busy racing weeks.