Renault Duster Team already in the top 5 at Dakar Rally

The Renault Duster Team made a sensational start to the 2015 Dakar Rally. The Emiliano Spataro/Benjamín Lozada crew ended the first leg in fifth place, alongside some of the top specialists of the legendary off-road Rally, held in South America.

Emiliano Spataro and Benjamín Lozada produced a fantastic performance on Sunday’s opening leg of the 2015 Dakar Rally. Driving the Renault Duster entered by Renault Argentina, with the support of Renault Sport Technologies, the South American crew reached Villa Carlos Paz in sixth position, before gaining an extra place after a penalty was handed to Nasser Al-Attiyah. They therefore hold fifth place overall, less than minute behind the leader, Orlando Terranova, and only fourteen seconds adrift of second place, whilst also ending the leg ahead of some very accomplished drivers, such as former winners Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel.

This is the best result recorded by the Renault Duster Team at this stage since its debut in 2013. Last year, José García and Mauricio Malano were ninth overall after the first leg.

García and Malano, in the second Renault Duster, also made a good start on Sunday in Argentina. However, held up by poor visibility and difficulties in overtaking the cars ahead of them on the road, they ended the first leg in 37th position, less than 14 minutes off the lead.


Overall standings after the first leg, Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz – Dakar 2015

1. Terranova – Graue (Mini) 1:13:12

2. Gordon – Campbell (Hummer) +0:42

3. De Villiers – Von Zitzewitz +0:50

4. Holowicz – Panseri +0:54

5. Spataro – Lozada +0:56

37. García – Malano + 13:55

The two Renault Duster crews will resume their journey on Monday, heading from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan, covering a total of 625 kilometres, with 518 kilometres of timed stages.

DAKAR 2015

Team Peugeot-Total shift into race mode

The new year is off to a flying start with the engineered acoustics of the PEUGEOT 2008 DKR ready to echo through South America. A successful shakedown exercise was completed following transportation of the cars to Argentina and all pre-race technical scrutineering checks have been passed. Now Team Peugeot-Total sit on the start-line of the 2015 Dakar Rally ready to race the 9,000km of perilous terrain that comprises the world’s toughest rally.

After months of hard work including December’s rigorous testing in Morocco the three race cars were placed on a boat and shipped to Argentina. As the team were reunited with the vehicles in Buenos Aires the tireless efforts recommenced as they set about configuring the cars into race mode.

The objective of the latest test was to finalise the settings on the cars belonging to Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz and Cyril Despres/Gilles Picard ahead of the first special stage of the Dakar on Sunday, January 4.

As an early introduction to the unpredictable nature of this two-week rally the team’s initial plans for a final test were hampered by torrential rainfall in the Argentinian capital. The original site for the shakedown had been an offroad track 30km outside Buenos Aires, but when the team arrived to find the location flooded an alternative was quickly sourced.

“This has been the first time at the Dakar that I have done a shakedown on tarmac, but that was the only option we had because of recent rainfall,” admitted former champion Carlos Sainz. “We were able to come up with a solution that allowed us to test the car and I’m happy that everything was working fine.”

Stéphane Peterhansel has successfully risen to the occasion to win the Dakar 11 times and he once again demonstrated coolness under pressure to put his car through its paces before passing it over to the race authorities for pre-race scrutineering checks. “We have such great team dedicated to looking after our race car,” said Stéphane. “And it’s awesome to see the excitement everyone is feeling for this new challenge.”

 The enthusiasm of car race newcomer Cyril Despres has been infectious since the team’s arrival in South America as he continues he take onboard advice about getting the maximum out of his machine. “The next time I will be in the car will be in Buenos Aires for the podium presentation,” said Cyril. “And then we race the first special stage.

Team principal Bruno Famin was encouraged to see his entire crew of drivers, co-drivers, mechanics and engineers step up to the challenge and complete all assignments scheduled for the days before the first stage. “That’s it, here we are. The entire team has made huge efforts in these last weeks to be ready for this day. I’m proud of what the team has accomplished till now,” said Bruno. “We now face the first stage. And we will consider the others stage after stage.”

With all three PEUGEOT 2008 DKRs tuned up to race the first special stage between Buenos Aires and Villa Carlos Paz on Sunday the team’s preparations are complete.


GP3 SeriesTM 2015 season calendar and teams confirmed

A season of nine events alongside Formula One

GP3 Series organisers are pleased to announce that the 2015 GP3 SeriesTM calendar has been confirmed today. It will once again consist of a total of nine rounds, which are all support events of the Formula OneTM World Championship. Seven rounds on the calendar will be held on European soil with two overseas events closing the season.
The sixth season of the GP3 SeriesTM will commence in Barcelona on 08-10 May. The action resumes on June 19-21 in Spielberg for round two, followed by Silverstone on July 03-05. Round four will take place in Germany (venue TBA) followed by the back-to-back race in Budapest which then takes the Series into the summer break.
The paddock returns to action on August 21-23 at Spa-Francorchamps with Monza hosting round seven two weeks later. The Series’ will make their second visit to Sochi on 09-11 October with Yas Marina staging the season finale on November 27-29.
The pre-season testing dates have also been announced: the first of three two day test sessions will take place in Estoril, Portugal on 18-19 March, with Valencia Ricardo Tormo hosting the second test on April 09-10. The final test session will run at Barcelona on 22-23 April.
As previously announced, the GP3 field welcomes Campos Racing in replacement of Hilmer Motorsport.
GP3 SeriesTM CEO Bruno Michel said: “I’m delighted that as in 2014, all nine rounds of the GP3 SeriesTM season will run alongside the Formula OneTM World Championship. This is fantastic exposure for all of our young drivers to race on the same circuits with Pirelli tyres in front of the F1 fraternity. The calendar strikes a good balance of European tracks with the two flyaway events at prestigious venues to conclude the year.”
2015 GP3 Series Calendar
18-19 March
Estoril, Portugal
09-10 April
Valencia, Spain
22-23 April
Barcelona, Spain
08-10 May
Barcelona, Spain
19-21 June
Spielberg, Austria
03-05 July
Silverstone, Great-Britain
17-19 July
TBA, Germany
24-26 July
Budapest, Hungary
21-23 August
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
04-06 September
Monza, Italy
09-11 October
Sochi, Russia
27-29 November
Yas Marina, UAE
2015 GP3 Series Teams
1 – 3
4 – 6
ART Grand Prix
7 – 9
Status Grand Prix
10 – 12
Koiranen GP
14 – 16
Arden International
17 – 19
20 – 22
Jenzer Motorsport
23 – 25
Campos Racing
26 – 28


My thanks to Eric Fernandez for bringing to my attention this wonderful museum in So Cal, and providing the photographs. Eric is a proud member of F1Weekly familia, and his passion for Formula One was fired by watching Nelson Piquet hustling his Parmalat Brabham in the streets of Long Beach in the early 80s.

The Marconi Automotive Museum is located in Tustin on 1302 Industrial Drive. The collection of automobiles, ranging from F1 machinery and Keke Rosberg’s Formula Atlantic pink car to muscle cars Americana, has an estimated value of $30m.

Dick Marconi is the man behind the museum, which opened in 1994. Originally from Gary, IN – also the birthplace of the Jackson 5 – Marconi made his money in developing and manufacturing custom made vitamins, weight loss products and supplements.


Schumacher. The man who owned ‘won’. In 1996, Michael Schumacher joined Scuderia Ferrari after back-to-back titles with Benetton. He scored an epic win for the Italian team in the rain in Spain. From 2000-2004, The Red Baron ruled the grand prix world and won five successive championships. The men in Maranello included Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and South African designer Rory Byrne.


 Mclaren Honda. Back to the future. This combo produced three world titles for the Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna, and memorable duels with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell. The Japanese giant is back with McLaren for 2015, and so is Fernando Alonso. The championship that got away in 2007 may be waiting in the near future.


Hill. Climb to success. Damon Hill is the first world champion son of a championship winning father. Damon raced motor bikes and also worked as a bike messenger before arriving in Formula One. In 1996, he was World Champion for Frank Williams. This could have been his second had it not been for the Adelaide action in 1994 of his arch rival, M Schumacher.


Another treat to enjoy while visiting this museum in So Cal, as confirmed by Eric himself, the local burrito is bueno.

Photos by Eric Fernandez


Nasir Hameed

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