DAKAR RALLY

Matthias Walkner on the road to La Paz © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Active Rest Day keeps Dakar racers on their toes in La Paz

The brakes were put on the 2017 Dakar Rally today as the competitors and crews enjoyed a much needed Rest Day in La Paz. With over 4,000 kilometres already ventured through Paraguay, Argentina and Bolivia there was anticipation in the bivouac of what’s to come on the second week of the toughest test of endurance motorsport has to offer.

With no racing on Sunday the Dakar camp in Bolivia’s capital city was a hive of activity from sunrise to sunset. Mechanics and engineers worked tirelessly on the cars, bikes, trucks and quads that remain in the race.

The world’s media were also busy in La Paz as they caught up with competitors to get their take on the race so far. With Team Peugeot Total occupying all three podium positions in the car category the questions came thick and fast for Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and Cyril Despres (FRA). The French trio were happy to reflect on a solid first week of driving but also careful not to get too carried away with nearly 5,000 kilometres still to be covered.

Also looking to defend their strong position is the Red Bull KTM Factory Team who currently have Sam Sunderland (GBR) leading the bike race. Sunderland and his team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) are on a quest to deliver KTM their 16th consecutive Dakar win.

Team Kamaz Master are relishing their battle in the truck race with reigning champion Gerard De Rooy (NLD). With Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) and Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) all within striking distance of De Rooy we’re guaranteed plenty more drama when this contest gets back underway tomorrow.

There was also the chance today for race fans to come and have close up look at the bivouac and get a real taste of the action. One special guest having a good look around was windsurfing legend Robby Naish. The self-confessed motorhead was blown away by the scale of the operation that keeps the Dakar on the road and enjoyed a guided tour of the PEUGEOT 3008 DKR.

Tomorrow will give Naish the chance to see Peugeot’s machine as well as the rest of the Dakar convoy in action as we travel 622km to Uyuni. It’s the first half of this year’s marathon stage so competitors will be separated from their mechanics and will have to carry out any necessary repairs by themselves.

DAKAR RALLY

Torrential rainfall puts pay to Stage Six of the Dakar Rally

With much of Oruro and the surrounding area underwater this morning the Dakar Rally organisers had no choice but to cancel Stage Six. The “extreme climatic conditions” in the region saw competitor safety put first and the proposed 527-kilometre timed special stage between Oruro and La Paz called off.

Get a real sense of the torrential rain falling in Oruro and the impact it had on proceedings by watching/downloading today’s News Cut here.

Those competitors who remain in the race after a gruelling first week that has seen high-profile retirements, such as Nasser Al-Attiyah, Carlos Sainz and Toby Price, came into La Paz this afternoon. The racers were greeted by hoards of enthusiastic fans that lined the streets of the highest capital city on the planet.

Now comes a well-earned Rest Day in La Paz with racers searching for a slice of comfort after exiting the mudbath of the Oruro bivouac. Rest Day gives Dakar competitors a chance for a full service of their race vehicle, various media commitments and hopefully the chance to get some much needed shuteye.

The Rest Day also gives a chance for petrolheads such as windsurf legend Robby Naish to get an up close look at how the Dakar works. Naish is due in the La Paz bivouac on Sunday to catch up with crews such as Team Peugeot Total, the Red Bull KTM Factory Team and Team Kamaz Master. After a dramatic first week of action they’ll be no shortage of stories for the thrill-seeker to hear about.

F1Weekly podcast #717

CLARK AND NASIR REVIEW THE SECOND HALF OF THE 2016 FORMULA 1 SEASON AND SHARE THEIR HOPE AND ASPIRATIONS FOR THE 2017 SEASON

ON ANOTHER NOTE WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING CONFIRM LANCE STROLL AT THE AUTOSPORT SHOW.

Williams is delighted to announce that Lance Stroll, who will race for WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING in the 2017 Formula One World Championship, will be appearing at this year’s Autosport Show (12th – 15th January 2017, NEC, Birmingham).
The Canadian will be taking to the Autosport International stage on Saturday 14th January, whilst Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams and Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley will be interviewed on Sunday 15thJanuary.
Stroll, who joins Williams following a dominant championship-winning year in European Formula 3, will be on stage to discuss his thoughts ahead of his first Formula One campaign.
Williams has already announced its plans to create a unique and interactive centrepiece for the Autosport Show in celebration of its 40th anniversary in Formula One, where fans will be transported through the British team’s 40-year history.
Claire Williams, Williams Martini Racing Deputy Team Principal, said: “We are pleased to confirm that Lance Stroll and Rob Smedley will be joining our 40th anniversary celebrations at Autosport International. It’s a great opportunity for fans to hear from Lance, and meet him, before he takes to the grid for the first time in Australia.”
Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be purchased from: http://www.autosportinternational.com. Tickets for Williams’ experiential centrepiece are also available for a charitable donation to Williams Martini Racing’s official charity partner, the Spinal Injuries Association, which supports those affected by spinal cord injuries.

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DAKAR RALLY

Favourites rise and fall as the Dakar Rally returns to Bolivia

Things can change in a blink of an eye at the Dakar Rally and today’s mix of dunes and altitude delivered another dramatic twist in the tale. A crash for reigning bike race champ Toby Price (AUS) saw the defence of his title end as he was airlifted from the stage with a broken femur. In the car race Team Peugeot Total showed impressive dominance over their rivals despite suffering a few scares of their own.

12 months ago Toby Price was celebrating becoming the first Australian to win the Dakar as he won the two-wheel contest by 40 minutes. Today the Dakar has shown Price the other side of the coin with a crash shortly before the end of the 416km timed special stage causing a broken left leg and an early retirement from the race. Price had been on for the eighth stage win of his Dakar career when misfortune struck. We all wish him a speedy recovery from his injury.

There was a silver lining for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team with Price’s team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) winning Stage Four. Walkner and fellow KTM rider Sam Sunderland (GBR) both currently sit around 25 minutes behind bike race leader Joan Barreda (ESP). Stefan Svitko (SVK) is a further seven minutes behind the KTM Factory pair after four days of intense racing. Elsewhere in the standings Yamaha Factory Team rider Hélder Rodrigues is up to 12th overall after a solid performance on the dunes.

The overnight news that Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) had been forced to retire caused a stir in the San Salvador de Jujuy bivouac. However, for the car crews remaining in the race it was straight down to business this morning. Team Peugeot Total once again put the foot down on their title defence with Cyril Despres (FRA) becoming the French marque’s third different stage winner of the past three days.

It was not such smooth sailing for the rest of Peugeot’s D-ream Team with Carlos Sainz (ESP), Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and Sébastien Loeb (FRA) all battling hard to keep pace with the front of the race. While Despres’ fellow Frenchmen were able to stay in touch with the lead the news was not so good for Sainz. The Spaniard rolled his PEUGEOT 3008 DKR and lost over two hours while stuck on the stage. Sainz’s car will be assessed by Peugeot mechanics in the bivouac after suffering considerable damage (see the car in today’s News Cut).

After his first-ever four-wheel Dakar stage win Despres is now the new leader of the car race with a 4m08s advantage over Peugeot team-mate Peterhansel. Loeb is a couple minutes further back in fourth place overall.

A four-pronged attack by Team Kamaz Master saw the Russians exert considerable influence over the truck stage. A return to form for Ayrat Mardeev and further great efforts by Dmitry Sotnikov, Anton Shibalov and Eduard Nikolaev have Kamaz riding high in the truck category.

Race fans in Bolivia had a memorable result to celebrate as local hero Walter Nosiglia (BOL) rode to victory in the quads. The stage proved trickier for Nosiglia’s fellow South American Ignacio Casale (CHL) who was among many competitors struggling to get a grip on the navigation challenges that came early in the day. Despite the difficulties Casale is only 28s behind new quad race leader Sergey Karyakin (RUS).

If today’s tests of navigation and tough terrain were a strain on the Dakar convoy then the news for tomorrow is no better. Competitors will be moving across the Bolivian Altoplano with the altitude peaking at 4,500 metres above sea-level. The 500km of timed racing will take place over a variety of surfaces including two sections of dunes. There’s a feeling in the Tupiza bivouac tonight that we have really reached the main dishes of the 2017 Dakar Rally.

DAKAR RALLY


Momentum shifts as the Dakar climbs to the clouds on day three

 

Three days into the 2017 Dakar Rally and the first real navigation challenges of the contest have caused major shifts in the formative leaderboards. With waypoints proving difficult to locate in the thin air of northern Argentina we’ve seen crews and their machines pushed to breaking point as the world’s toughest endurance race lives up to its reputation.

Standing up to every challenge that came their way on Stage Three was Team Peugeot Total who claimed a monumental 1-2-3 result on the route from Tucumán to Jujuy. Reigning car race champion and 12-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) showed his class over the entire 364km of timed racing to take the stage win. Joining Stéphane on the Stage Three podium were his Peugeot team-mates Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Sébastien Loeb (FRA).

It’s also a Peugeot 1-2-3 in the general classification with Loeb leading from Sainz and Peterhansel. The fourth member of the D-ream Team – Cyril Despres (FRA) – is running 7th overall after an extremely satisfying day’s work by the French marque.

It was tougher going for Toyota Gazoo Racing with both Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Giniel De Villiers (RSA) suffering significant stoppages on the stage. Both former Dakar winners had been riding high after two stages but both saw a major dent put in their chances of a win this year on this stage. Al-Attiyah encountered his problems when he ran off the route and fell down a hole, an event that lost him a front wheel. The incident saw the Qatari lose over two hours on stage winner Peterhansel. Meanwhile, De Villiers had a fuel pump problem on his Hilux which slowed him down before taking 30 minutes to fix.

The signs were more encouraging for Orlen Team’s Kuba Przygonski (POL) who brought home his MINI for a 10th place finish on the stage that lands him in the Top 10 overall.

The battle at the front of the bike race swung in favour of Honda today as their lead rider Joan Barreda (ESP) collected the 15th stage win of his Dakar career. When reigning champion Toby Price (AUS) of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team lost 20 minutes due a navigation mistake opening the road, Barreda pounced to take advantage. The Spanish rider now leads the overall classification with Price’s KTM team-mate Sam Sunderland (GBR) 10m20s back in second place. Price himself has slipped to 5th overall while KTM’s third factory rider Matthias Walkner (AUT) rounds off the Top 10.

As the Dakar climbed to 5,000 metres above sea level on Stage Three one former winner of the truck race took the chance to climb up the general classification. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), Dakar winner in 2013, took full advantage of the mechanical problems suffered by defending champion Gerard De Rooy (NLD) to approach the summit of the truck race. Nikolaev can call on the support of fellow Team Kamaz Master drivers Dmitry Sotnikov, Anton Shibalov and Ayrat Mardeev as the Russians look to secure top spot on the stages to come.

FORMULA 3

FACES GOING PLACES

ENAAM AHMED GOING DOWN UNDER TO RISE & SHINE

Enaam Ahmed, friend of F1 Weekly from his sensational karting career, is hoping to get his 2017 racing campaign rolling to match the conclusion of his 2016 season.

The Tasman series may have flown into extinction like the Dodo bird, but the New Zealand-based Castrol Toyota Racing Series has feathered the careers of several promising young drivers over the past few years.

Recent past champions include home grown talent Mitch Evans, who went on to become GP3 Champion. Lance Stroll won the championship in 2015 and this season will see action in Formula 1 with Williams.

In 2016, Lando Norris took the title and went on to win the Formula Renault Euro cup.

Enaam is now 16, the minimum age requirement to compete in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, and with two race winning seasons of open wheel competition behind him, is looking forward to championship challenge against not only much older drivers, but also drivers who raced last year in the same series.

The opening round of the 2017 Championship is on January 14 at Ruapuna near Christchurch. Each round features three races and is staged on successive weekends; the final event on February 12 at Manfeild is the prestigious New Zealand Grand Prix.

After winning five karting championships in his final season of karting in 2014, Enaam raced to Rookie of the Year honors, and 5th overall, in the 2015 British MSA Formula Championship. He also raced in selected rounds of the Northern European-based SMP Formula 4 Series; winning five races, including all three at Pärnu in Estonia.

The 2016 season saw Enaam step up to the BRDC British F3 and in the opening round at Snetterton he was a race winner and also finished on the podium in the other two races of the weekend. He was classified 5th in the overall standings in this very competitive series. He then completed the 2016 racing season on a high note by winning the British F3 Autumn Trophy.

The car used in the Castrol Toyota Racing Series is the Italian Tatuus single-seater, powered by a 1.8 liter Toyota engine which produces around 160 kWs running on an 85 percent ethanol bio-fuel.

Michelin is the official tire supplier.

Enaam will race with Giles Motorsport; his teammates will be Australian Luis Leeds and Dutch driver Richard Verschoor.

Quick and consistent, Enaam’s fighting spirit has been the hallmark of this young racer from London town.

Racing so far from home base, Enaam said, “I’m really excited to be going into TRS with such fierce competition. It’s going to be a really good challenge to go up against these experienced guys as I wasn’t old enough to do it last year.

“Let’s see how it goes!”

  • Nasir Hameed

 

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast