Dakar Rally, Stage 11: Ricky Brabec falls to third, takes shot at KTM amid refueling drama

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Team Honda’s Ricky Brabec lost six minutes to the overall leader Kevin Benavides in Stage 11 of the Dakar Rally and was passed by Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland for second overall. Brabec will need a perfect final stage if he is going to win his second consecutive Dakar, after being the first American to win it last year.

But as he crossed the line at the end of the stage, drama unfolded.

Suffering from the effects of a fall two days earlier, Honda teammate Joan Barreda missed a refueling point at 174 kilometers. That would have incurred a penalty for the Spanish rider who was on his way to a best-ever Dakar finish. But it was only the tip of the iceberg.

“I wasn’t feeling well again this morning,” Barreda said in a release, who finished Stage 10 in second. “I don’t know if it’s because of the crash I had two days ago, I was a bit dizzy. So I ended up missing the refueling point, and I didn’t stop. Ultimately it was my mistake.”

Eventually, Barreda ran out of fuel. After a medical check, he ended the day in a local hospital.

Brabec wasn’t buying that Barreda missed the refueling station unintentionally.

“They think that it was a strategy for Joan to go ahead and skip refueling,” Brabec said. “But you know what, they’re talking crap behind our back, and I’m not OK with that. They want to play that game, then we’re going to play. Hopefully tomorrow we can clinch a podium spot, that’s about it.”

KTM’s Matthias Walkner later apologized to Honda.

Sunderland won Stage 11 and closed to within 4 minutes, 12 seconds of Benavides. It was the first stage win this year for Sunderland.

“Today I knew this was one of the last chances I had to win this race and give my all,” Sunderland said. “I ran out of water with 60ks to go and was riding like hell in the dunes. I made a few navigation mistakes but no regrets. I gave my all.”

Brabec fell to third overall, 7 minutes and 13 seconds back.

Once again, blazing the trail by being first out after the Stage 10 victory was not a winning formula as Brabec wrote in an Instagram post that he was expecting to lose time with the competition starting behind him.

“I’m fortunate to have rode really well (in Stage 10) and very unfortunate to open today,” Brabec said. “It was a tough one. We’ll do our best and stay focused. Tomorrow we’re gonna ride our ass off.”

Having lost nearly 13 minutes to the leader on Thursday, he knows anything can happen on Friday. “Today is said and done, tomorrow let’s make a final push and after a bit of drama from the orange brigade boys were fired up on this one,” he posted on IG.

One day after his Honda teammate Nacho Canejo was forced to retire, it was Barreda’s turn. He entered the stage fourth in the overall ranking, 15 minutes, 40 seconds behind the leader.

“I’m sorry, folks. I’m in the hospital performing a head scan,” Barreda said on Instagram. “The fall of two days ago when I lost consciousness for a few minutes has been billed to me today.

“I was really looking forward to continuing in the race and finishing my best, but it couldn’t have been.”

American privateer Skyler Howes started fourth after a strong Stage 10. Thursday was not as kind. Howes got stuck in a hole in the desert and lost considerable time getting back under way.

“This last bit in the dunes, I came over one wrong, just too far to the right, ended up in a hole and got completely stuck,” said Howes, who finished 25 minutes, 53 seconds behind Sunderland. “I tried to get out for a long, long time and wasted a lot of energy doing it. Really frustrating day, especially this close to the end. Was really hoping not to lose any time but lost quite a bit.”

In other divisions Thursday:

Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah won his fifth stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally and his first since Stage 8, but he was only able to make up a little more than 2 minutes on Stephane Peterhansel, who appears to be on his way to earning a record-extending 14 overall victory.

“I’m quite happy,” Al-Attiyah said. “This is a really good feeling. At one point, I’m disappointed because my dream is to win this race in Saudi Arabia, but we still have one stage left, and you don’t know what can happen.”

Peterhansel finished second after overcoming a pair of punctures, including one in the dunes.

“Towards the end, we got lost and lost a few minutes, so a lot of stress but it’s finally a good day because it was quite a stage so to lose a little time is okay,” Peterhansel said.

Side by side UTVs (SSV)/lightweight/light prototypes: Francisco Contardo won Stage 11 and further distanced himself from second-place Austin Jones by 8 minutes, 11 seconds.

Jones finished fourth in the stage and now trails in the overall standings by more than 18 minutes.

“It was a long one,” Jones said. “We just got through it. That’s about it. Happy to be done with it.”

After losing massive time the past two days with mechanical problems, Seth Quintero finished first in the lightweight/lightweight prototype division.

“Today went absolutely amazing,” the American said after his sixth stage victory. “Just trying to pick cars off all day, and that’s what we did. The last two days were really rough and couldn’t have asked for a better day. No issues and ran a smooth, clean pace.”

Quads: Giovanni Enrico did not win his first stage of the 2021 Dakar until Stage 8. He now has two after beating Manuel Andujar to the Stage 11 checkpoint.

With his stage win, Enrico shaved a fraction off Andujar’s overall lead, but he has almost 26 minutes to overcome in the Friday’s final stage.

Trucks: Team Kamaz was back on top with Anton Shibalov beating Airat Mardeev to the checkpoint.

But it’s their teammate Dmitry Sotnikov that holds a commanding lead of nearly 40 minutes heading into the final stage.


STAGE 1 RESULTSCarlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories

STAGE 2Ricky Brabec jumps to second; Andrew Short withdraws

STAGE 3American privateer Skyler Howes takes lead

STAGE 4Four Stages, four bike winners; Al-Attiyah wins three consecutive in cars

STAGE 5Kevin Benavides new leader in bikes

STAGE 6: Toby Price retakes the lead; Peterhansel distances the competition

STAGE 7Ricky Brabec captures first victory; Skyler Howes third

STAGE 8: Austin Jones takes overall lead in side by sides

STAGE 9: Toby Price retires after heavy crash; Peterhansel wins

STAGE 10: Ricky Brabec closes to within a minute of overall lead

STAGE WINS

Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah 5 (Stages 2, 3, 4, 8, 11); Carlos Sainz 2 (Stage 1, 6); Yazeed Al Rajhi 2 (Stage 7, 10); Giniel de Villiers (Stage 5); Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 9)

Bikes: Joan Barreda 3 (Stage 2, 4, 6); Toby Price 2 (Stages 1, 3); Kevin Benavides 2 (Stage 5, 9); Ricky Brabec 2 (Stage 7, 10); Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Stage 8); Sam Sunderland (Stage 11)

Side-by-sides: Francisco Lopez Contardo 6 (Stage 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11); Austin Jones (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Aron Domzala (Stage 4); Khalifa Al Attiyah (Stage 6), Sergei Kariakin (Stage 10)

Lightweight prototypes: Seth Quintero 6 (Stage 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 11); Cristina Gutierrez Herrero 3 (Stage 1, 7, 9); Kris Meeke (Stage 4)

Quads: Alexandre Giroud 3 (Stage 1, 6, 8); Nicolas Cavigliasso 2 (Stage 3, 5); Manuel Andujar 2 (Stage 4, 7); Pablo Copetti 2 (Stage 2, 10); Giovanni Enrico 2 (Stage 9, 11)

Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 4 (Stage 1, 2, 4, 7); Martin Macik 2 (Stage 9, 10); Anton Shibalov 2 (Stage 8, 11); Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 3); Andrey Karginov (Stage 5); Airat Mardeev (Stage 6)

Watch highlights from Stage 11 of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN at 9:30 p.m. ET today.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Anaheim 2: Ken Roczen is consistency’s king

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Strength is found not only in outright wins, but also through consistency, which contributed to the rise of Ken Roczen in the SuperMotocross Rankings after Anaheim 2.

Roczen ended the 2022 Supercross season with the knowledge that he urgently needed change, so he declared himself a free agent, signed with Suzuki during the offseason and set upon 2023 with renewed determination. It worked. Roczen is one of three riders in the 450 class with a sweep of the top five and that consistency has given him the lead in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

SuperMotocross Rankings Anaheim 2
Like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield wall, Ken Roczen pointed his way to the Power Rankings lead. – Feld Motor Sports

This formula rewards riders who compete at the front of the pack at the end of the Mains, in their heats, or in last week’s case, the three motos that make up the Triple Crown. Roczen has improved his overall performance each week with a fifth in Anaheim 1, a fourth in San Diego and his first podium of 2023 in Anaheim 2. Can he keep the trend alive with a first- or second-place finish in Houston?

A fall is all it takes sometimes. Last week, Eli Tomac tumbled hard when he pushed wide on the exit of a turn and jumped on top of a Tuff Blox. He remounted after that incident in Race 3 of the Triple Crown, but could only manage a 13th-place result in the moto. It could have been much worse and resulted in an injury, but coupled with a sixth in the overall standings at Anaheim 2, it pushed him down a spot in the SuperMotocross Ranking.

Along with Roczen (and Chase Sexton), Cooper Webb swept the top five in Supercross’ first three rounds. He is knocking on the door of a win and it won’t take long for him to ascend to the top of the box. Webb has two victories in Houston and each of them came during a championship season.

If there is a more determined rider than Jason Anderson, get out of his way. His path to the front of the pack is not always lined with primroses since he often has to pass multiple riders with whom he has had a run-in during his path, but the SuperMotocross Power Rankings are concerned only with raw results – not intention – and Anaheim 2 was Anderson’s best race of the season. He earned his first top-five and first podium with a second-place finish that was aided by a moto win.

MORE: Triple Crown format shakes up A2’s finishing order

Dylan Ferrandis has also been a model of consistency. Last week his Triple Crown effort of 4-6-5 gave him an overall finish of fifth. That came on the heels of a fourth-place result in the season opener and a sixth in San Diego. With no result worse than sixth this season, the numbers add up quite well.

Sexton’s position just outside the top five this week is entirely attributable to his last-place result in the San Diego heat. The SuperMotocross Rankings looks at the past 45 days, so that will affect him for a while, but if he continues to ride like he did in Anaheim 2, he’s going to climb quickly despite that albatross around his neck.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Driver Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Ken Roczen 84.63 3 2
2. Eli Tomac
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
83.25 1 -1
3. Cooper Webb 82.25 2 -1
4. Jason Anderson
[1 Heat win]
80.63 5 1
5. Dylan Ferrandis 78.75 4 -1
6. Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat wins]
77.75 9 3
7. Justin Barcia 67.88 6 -1
8. Aaron Plessinger 67.63 8 0
9. Adam Cianciarulo 67.25 7 -2
10. Joey Savatgy 61.00 11 1
10. Marvin Musquin 61.00 12 2
12. Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat win]
58.75 13 1
13. Christian Craig 56.13 14 1
14. Colt Nichols 56.00 10 -4
15. Dean Wilson 47.50 15 0
16. Tristan Lane 41.00 18 2
17. Grant Harlan 40.67 19 2
18. Justin Hill 40.57 16 -2
19. Logan Karnow 36.50 20 1
20. Alex Ray 36.00 21 1

Supercross Points


The 250 West riders get a couple of weeks off before heading to Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 and several of them need the rest. Tough weeks for Cameron McAdoo and RJ Hampshire forced them to lose ground in the SuperMotocross points to Jett Lawrence at a time that could prove to play mental games.

Lawrence also had his share of issues at Anaheim 2, but overcame early falls in the first two motos and finished no worse than sixth. Considering that he dropped to the tail of the field in Race 2, that was a remarkable accomplishment and he entered the final race with a shot at the overall win. He narrowly missed that mark, but still has not finished worse than second in three rounds. His lead in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings is safe.

Cameron McAdoo rode with injury in all three Triple Crown motos, so his sixth-place finish was a moral victory. Cameron McAdoo, Instagram

McAdoo said it best in an Instagram post this week: “Woke up feeling grateful that I’m relatively healthy after my big mistake during qualifying yesterday. We made the decision that it would be safe for me to race so I did everything I possibly could to get through the night ending up [sixth overall]. We will work on getting healed up in these few weeks off to come back strong for Oakland!”

With results of 8-7-5 in the Triple Crown and his combined sixth-place result, McAdoo lost significant ground to Lawrence in both the points’ standings and our Power formula. The Oakland race is going to be critical if he wants to stay in the championship hunt because the series will have a long break before returning in Seattle for Round 11. No one wants to sit with negative feelings for that long.

Mitchell Oldenburg has quietly amassed some impressive numbers. His name has not been called a lot during broadcasts, but he has not finished worse than seventh in any of the first three rounds. Themes develop during a season and weekend – and for the moment, this one revolves around reliability. Oldenburg finished 5-4-6 in Anaheim 2 which means he has consistently amassed SuperMotocross Power Rankings points.

Stilez Robertson won his first race of the season in Moto 2 of the Triple Crown. Coupled with a third-place finish in the final race, he leapfrogged Hampshire and Enzo Lopes, both of whom had disappointing outings. He stands fifth in the points’ standing mostly due to a ninth-place finish in the season opener, but each race has been progressively better and that is a good sign.

Sometimes, all it takes is a taste of success. Prior to Anaheim 2, Levi Kitchen’s best Supercross finish was a seventh earned in this year’s season opener. He scored a ninth at Minneapolis last year, but that was not enough to put him on the radar. This early in the season, one strong run can sway the SuperMotocross Power Ranking significantly, but Robertson has earned his way into the top five. More importantly, he’s going to be the object of interest when the West series returns to Oakland.

Next week the 250 East riders mount up in Houston, Texas before they head to Tampa, Florida. The Power Rankings will combine the two divisions, so the riders below are likely to shift dramatically.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Driver Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat wins]
89.13 1 0
2. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 3 1
3. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 5 2
4. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
76.75 6 2
5. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main win]
73.75 12 7
6. RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat wins]
70.00 2 -4
7. Max Vohland – W 69.29 8 1
8. Derek Kelley – W 63.75 10 2
9. Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 4 -5
10. Pierce Brown – W 61.29 13 3
11. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 7 -4
12. Dylan Walsh – W 56.00 9 -3
13. Cole Thompson – W 51.00 11 -2
14. Robbie Wageman – W 50.75 15 1
15. Anthony Rodriguez – W 49.00 14 -1
16. Ty Masterpool – W 47.50 16 0
17. Kaeden Amerine – W 47.50 16 -1
18. Dominique Thury – W 47.00 18 0
19. Austin Forkner – W 43.00 20 1
20. Derek Drake – W 42.33 21 1

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage