AJ Jones’ hopes of winning the T3 Lightweight Prototype class in the 2023 Dakar Rally got a major boost in Thursday’s Stage 11, as the Empty Quarter Marathon began with racers taking on 275 kilometers of special stage without the aid of the bivouac. Jones may have only finished fifth on the stage, 6:18 off class winner Ricardo Porem, but he now finds himself nearly an hour in front of fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team racer Seth Quintero for the overall lead.
That’s because incoming leader Guillaume De Mevius suffered substantial mechanical issues just 40 kilometers into the stage, costing the Belgian the better part of two hours and dropping him to third overall. De Mevius still has well over an hour in hand on defending class champion Chaleco Lopez for the final podium position, but Jones’ advantage gives him high hopes of winning both UTV-based classes in back-to-back years after taking last year’s T4 SSV title.
Meanwhile, a different Can-Am driver has taken up Jones’ mantle in T4, with Rokas Baciuska taking the Stage 11 victory to add to his overall advantage on Eryk Goczal. Goczal mitigated the damage by finishing second on the day, just 37 seconds off Baciuska’s winning time, and is just 4:17 off the top spot overall. Goczal’s father Marek is third overall, 14:18 back, after Stage 10 winner Gerard Farres suffered issues of his own that have dropped him to fifth, more than an hour off the pace.
2023 Dakar Rally Stage 11 winners were as follows:
- Lightweight Prototype: Ricardo Porem, 3:19:11
- SSV: Rokas Baciuska, 3:25:13
2023 Dakar Rally class leaders are as follows:
- Lightweight Prototype: AJ Jones, 45:19:15
- SSV: Rokas Baciuska, 46:42:42
Coverage of today’s Dakar Rally action will debut on Peacock at 6:30PM ET. Tomorrow’s Stage 12 completes the Empty Quarter Marathon, returning racers to their support crews in Shaybah after 185 kilometers of special stage that will see plenty of dunes once again.