Dakar Rally 2017: Results, Reaction and Updated Route Schedule After Friday

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2017

UNSPECIFIED, ARGENTINA - JANUARY 13:  Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and KTM rides a 450 Rally Replica KTM bike in the Elite ASO during stage eleven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between San Juan and Rio Cuarto on January 13, 2017 at an unspecified location in Argentina.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Sebastien Loeb and Paulo Goncalves gained ground in the overall standings of the 2017 Dakar Rally on Friday, but with just one stage left, both need a minor miracle on the road to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to complete a comeback. 

Loeb chases Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel by more than five minutes in the car category, while Sam Sunderland has an enormous lead in the bike division.

Here's a look at the results from Friday's stage, courtesy of Dakar's official Twitter account:

The 2017 Dakar Rally will finish with one final stage, taking every competitor to the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires. Friday's drive will be 786 km long, starting in Rio Cuarto. For the exact route, visit the event's official website by clicking here.

The battle in the bike category was expected to go down to the wire, but with just one stage left in this year's rally, the winner already seems set in stone.

UNSPECIFIED, ARGENTINA - JANUARY 13:  Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and KTM rides a 450 Rally Replica KTM bike in the Elite ASO during stage eleven of the 2017 Dakar Rally between San Juan and Rio Cuarto on January 13, 2017 at an unspecified location in
Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Sunderland finished more than seven minutes behind Goncalves, Friday's winner, but he limited the damage over the top contenders in the overall classification and will start the final stage with a lead of more than 30 minutes on the rest of the pack.

Matthias Walkner sits in second place, but his pace has been off the last few days, and he doesn't seem much of a threat at this point. Consistency has been an issue for the impressive Joan Barreda, and he too no longer seems to be in a position to threaten Sunderland.

In the car category, Peugeot once again took top honours on Friday, as Loeb beat team-mate Peterhansel by just 18 seconds. As Dakar's official Twitter account shared, that leaves the former rally star with a mountain to climb:

Loeb had the better pace on Friday, but Peterhansel showed his experience by following the Frenchman's tracks, almost casually making his way to the final line. The 51-year-old has been racing the rally since 1988, both on motorbikes and in cars, and no one understands the unique nature of all-terrain endurance racing like he does.

Peugeot's French driver Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena from Monaco compete during Stage 11 of the 2017 Dakar Rally between San Juan and Rio Cuarto, in Argentina, on January 13, 2017. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK F
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

The race is far from over, however. A single mechanical issue could doom Peterhansel's chances on Saturday, even if the worst of the terrain is now in the rearview mirror.

In the quad division, Russia's Sergey Karyakin pushed his advantage to over 76 minutes with yet another dominant showing, finishing more than 20 minutes faster than any of his rivals. At this point, Karyakin could likely head for Buenos Aires blindfolded and still win the race.