While the results in Bikes category seem to be more or less confirmed, it's the Cars category that'll witness a nail-biting finish in the shortened final stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally on Friday.
The penultimate stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally has more or less sealed the fate of this year's competitors as the final, title-deciding stage of the event has been reduced to just 166km (from the original 244km) distance due to ongoing construction of gas pipelines in the region.
Running back to Haradh from Shubaytah, the 379km Special Stage witnessed strong competition between Rockstar Energy Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla and Red Bull KTM rider Matthias Walkner. The duo secured the top two spots in Thursday's penultimate stage, with Quintanilla going all guns blazing to achieve a 9-second victory over Walkner. While Quintanilla has managed to eat into overall leader Ricky Brabec's (Monster Energy Honda) lead, the latter still leads overall by nearly 14 minutes. Quintanilla and Toby Price (Red Bull KTM), meanwhile, continue to hold second and third overall, respectively. As for Sherco TVS' progress, Adrien Metge registered an impressive 16th place finish in Stage 11. However, he's yet to break into top 10 as he still remains 12th overall.
In the Cars category, Sainz found himself in a tricky spot as he was the stage opener. Due to this, he ended up losing time throughout the stage to his closest rivals Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) and Stephane Peterhansel (Bahrain JCW X-Raid). Taking advantage of Sainz's slow pace, teammate Peterhansel and Al-Attiyah went into maximum attack mode and were in a league of their own throughout the stage. Nearly neck-and-neck towards the finish, the Al-Attiyah conceded stage victory to Peterhansel by just 10 seconds! Sainz, meanwhile, finished in third place. He was off by around 8 minutes. As a result, Sainz's overall lead has come down to a little over 10 minutes over Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel.
Al-Attiyah's teammate and Dakar rookie Fernando Alonso came back into the competition very strong with an 8th-place finish in Stage 11. Coming over the setback of the previous stage, he managed to climb up to 13th place overall after the penultimate test.
Overall classification after Stage 11 (Bikes):
1st - Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda)
2nd - Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
3rd - Toby Price (Red Bull KTM)
12th - Adrien Metge (Sherco TVS)
Overall classification after Stage 11 (Cars):
1st - Carlos Sainz Sr. (Bahrain JCW X-Raid)
2nd - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
3rd - Stephane Peterhansel (Bahrain JCW X-Raid)
13th - Fernando Alonso (Toyota Gazoo Racing)