Tag Archives: Monza



216. The number of competitors who managed to finish the 2015 Dakar (79 motorcycles, 18 quads, 68 cars and 51 trucks) out of the 420 which started the rally. Two of them, Ivan Jakeš and Robby Gordon, won the final stage in the motorcycle and car categories, respectively. However, the spotlight was on Marc Coma, who drew upon his experience to take his fifth Dakar, and Nasser Al-Attiyah, who claimed his second one after dominating the entire two-week rally.

Marc Coma is now level with Cyril Despres, a fact which will please the Frenchman’s eternal rival at the Dakar to no end and —just like his former teammate— puts him just one triumph away from the record held by legend Stéphane Peterhansel. Their equal number of wins takes on a special dimension considering the dominance of the two men throughout the last ten editions of the Dakar, as well as the good-natured competition which fuels their ambition. For the first time in ten years, Despres was not there to take the fight to Coma, having switched to the car category this year, but the Spaniard still had to fight tooth and nail for his resounding victory in Buenos Aires… As in 2014, Joan Barreda was clearly the toughest rival the KTM rider came up against in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. The HRC rider won stage 2 with the added bonus of the overall lead, opening a crucial 12-minute gap thanks to the latter’s tyre problems. From the very next stage, the two Spaniards played cat and mouse, riding together and taking turns to claw back the two minutes separating them at the start of the special. This little game lasted several days to the benefit of Barreda, who looked like he had finally acquired the experience needed to fight for victory until the end without making any mistakes.
However, Coma bided his time like a feline waiting to pounce at the slightest opportunity. Marc found an opening in stage 8 after his Spanish rival suffered a mechanical. The no. 2 Honda, damaged by the crossing of the waterlogged Salar de Uyuni, had to be towed to Iquique by Jeremías Israel Esquerre. This decisive turn of events gave Marc Coma the reins of the rally, which he kept until Buenos Aires. However, the KTM rider still had to see off a determined Paulo Gonçalves who was out to avenge the honour of the world’s leading maker, thwarted by its Austrian nemesis for the third time since its official rally raid comeback. The Portuguese rider never gave up, but he finally had to settle for a well-deserved second place. As well-deserved as amazing Toby Price’s third step on the podium. The 27-year-old rookie from Down Under will be worth keeping an eye on in upcoming editions. The KTM rider claimed stage 12 and kept getting stronger as the race went on, pulling off an impressive streak of eight top 5 places and bested Pablo Quintanilla for third place at the end of the rally, making him the best rookie since his fellow countryman Andy Haydon in 1998.
However, his Chilean rival has good reason to be happy with his rally after having to withdraw from his first two editions of the Dakar, winning the gruelling eighth stage. He too will probably come back with loftier goals in 2016. Among those who did not make it to the finish, Sam Sunderland will be seeking to bounce back and gain consistency in 2016 after winning the first special this year, just like Matthias Walkner, who also won a stage in his maiden Dakar and represents the new generation of rally raid together with Price. Laia Sanz did reach Buenos Aires and showed flashes of brilliance throughout the 2015 edition, claiming a fantastic fifth place in Iquique and, even more importantly, ninth overall, up there with the big guns. The pretty Catalan even beat Olivier Pain, who barely had any presence in the race for the Yamaha clan.
Nasser Al-Attiyah won the first stage but was handed down a time penalty for speeding in the link section. No big deal for the Qatari. He had sent his rivals a clear message: this was going to be his year. The Mini driver rammed the message home the very next day, taking an undisputable and undisputed stage win, the first of an impressive set of five wins which shows just how far ahead of the competition Al-Attiyah was in the 37th Dakar. The newly crowned two-time champion of the most prestigious rally on Earth took the overall lead at the end of stage 2 and kept it until the end. He never even hesitated, racking up one win after another instead of simply defending his lead even when the slower-but-steady Giniel de Villiers piled the pressure on him. The Toyota driver, second in Buenos Aires, was the only man who challenged the no. 301 Mini until the end (finally losing by 35 minutes). Only a stage victory could have made the South African 2009 winner of the Dakar’s performance even better.
Nani Roma, on the other hand, did take stage 9. However, the 2014 champion’s dreams of overall glory were already shattered, as his supposedly ultra-reliable Mini suffered a mechanical a few kilometres into the opening special. The Spaniard ended up rolling out of the rally with four days to go, just like Carlos Sainz during stage 5. With the former WRC champion gone, Stéphane Peterhansel was left to fly the Peugeot colours alone in the rally comeback of the brand with the lion. The Frenchman’s bid for glory failed and he had to settle for bringing his 2008 DKR to Buenos Aires, just like Cyril Despres in his baptism of fire on four wheels. Orlando Terranova was also disappointed in the 2015 edition, but even though he was knocked out of contention in stage 4, he set an infernal pace throughout the rally. The Argentinean grabbed four stages and would have probably been a strong contender for the overall win with some more luck. Lady Luck was just as mean to Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who produced an awesome performance until stage 11, which he never even managed to start due to a mechanical problem a few kilometres before entering the special. The Saudi winner of stage 8, who was sitting third overall before withdrawing from the rally, will be worth keeping an eye on in 2016. Al-Rajhi’s pain was Krzysztof Hołowczyc’s gain, as the Pole celebrated his tenth participation with a much awaited podium place, 1 h 32′ behind the unassailable Al-Attiyah.
In the quad category, Rafał Sonik finally tasted glory in his sixth Dakar start, following four top 5 finishes. The Pole hit the ground running, but he spent a big chunk of the rally battling Ignacio Casale, who was determined to make it two in a row after his brilliant victory in 2014 —Chile’s first at the Dakar. Casale won the first two stages and put his cards on the table, locked in a fierce battle with Sonik until a mechanical problem in stage 10 sent him home. The same special also eliminated Sergio Lafuente, opening a gap of almost three hours between the leader and second-placed Jeremías González Ferioli, who grabbed his first special at the young age of 19! Christophe Declerck’s two amazing stage wins thrust him into the limelight as the only French stage winner at the 2015 Dakar.
Finally, Kamaz’s grip on the truck race remained as strong as ever. The Russians were light-years ahead of the competition, pulling off a jaw-dropping 1-2-3-4 in the general classification! Hans Stacey’s win at the wheel of his Iveco in the first stage may have seemed a bad omen for the Russians, but despite racking up four stage wins, the Dutchman was left in the dust as Ayrat Mardeev and Eduard Nikolaev duelled for the overall. Nikolaev won six stages and halfway through the race seemed on track to repeat his 2013 victory, but a calamitous stage 7 forced him to chase after the super-consistent Mardeev. In the end, Nikolaev simply ran out of road as he lost to his fellow countryman by 13 minutes in Buenos Aires. Ilgizar Mardeev’s son made amends for his second place behind Nikolaev two years ago, while 2014 champion Andrey Karginov took the bottom step of the podium.


An intense farewell to the dunes of Atacama

The cars battled across the dunes of the Atacama Desert with race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah straight on the attack as the sand racing specialist increased his overall lead to 24 minutes. Sitting second overall in the car race for the eighth consecutive stage is South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and the Toyota driver will continue to push Nasser despite forfeiting 15 minutes to the Qatari today.

There was a terrific fightback in the bike race from many of the riders who lost time due to the horrendous mixture of water and salt that caused a raft of mechanical problems yesterday. Hélder Rodrigues picked up the stage win and his Honda team-mate Joan Barreda was 10th despite incurring a 15 minute penalty for an engine change. Matthias Walkner also proved he still has plenty of racing in him on his Dakar debut as he clocked a top 20 time on today’s stage, even with a 55 minute penalty for missing a waypoint added to his time.

Out at the front of the bike race is four-time winner and reigning champion Marc Coma. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team captain is refusing to take anything for granted with second placed Paulo Gonçalves less than six minutes behind in the overall rankings.

The rest day had clearly been a successful exercise for Kamaz Master as Ayrat Mardeev claimed another stage win. Race leader Mardeev was followed home by his team-mate and overall second place trucker Eduard Nikolaev. 14 minutes is all that separates the two Russians as the contest promises a dramatic final four stages of racing.

All competitors reaching the finish line of stage nine were welcomed into a dusty bivouac in Calama with the promise of another early start tomorrow. The Dakar convoy will cross over the Andes on Wednesday morning and enter Argentina for the decisive stages.

Results of SS9 (Cars):
1. Nani Roma (ESP) Mini 4h 41m 56s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Qatar Rally Team +00:06:27
3. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS) Mini +00:21:58

Results of SS9 (Bikes):
1. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT) Honda 5h 06m 14s
2. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Yamaha +00:03:51
3. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM +00:07:34

Results of SS9 (Trucks):
1. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) Kamaz 5h 19m 29s
2. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz +00:01:29
3. Gerard de Rooy (NLD) Iveco +00:07:05


Bikes plunged into deep water, cars and trucks busy in bivouac

Four-time Dakar winner Marc Coma now heads the overall classification with a cushion of over nine minutes from second placed Paulo Gonçalves. Reigning champ Marc climbed above Joan Barreda in the rankings as his fellow Spaniard required a tow to complete the first section of the day’s timed special stage. Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Ruben Faria completed a clean ride to record the day’s 10th fastest time to move sixth overall.

It was a tough day for Jordi Viladoms, last year’s runner-up who is out of the race due a broken engine sustained while racing through the metre deep pools of water that littered the route in Bolivia. Meanwhile, Matthias Walkner and Hélder Rodrigues joined Barreda among the large group of late arrivals in Iquique after suffering in the wet conditions. It will be a long night for the factory team mechanics and the road ahead looks even tougher for the remaining amateur riders after the salt water on the stage ravaged all engines.

While the bikes and quads completed their marathon stage, the truck and car competitors stayed off the accelerator during a rest day in Iquique. Despite Kamaz Master occupying the top three positions in the general truck classification there was no member of the Russian team putting their feet up today. As well as being a long day for the mechanics, each driver and their race crews were also busy working on the trucks. Seven-time Dakar winner and Kamaz team leader Vladimir Chagin was ever present in the bivouac to oversee the rest day operation.

It’s been a very satisfactory first week for car race leader Nasser Al-Attiyah and the Qatari was in a relaxed mood as he gave interviews to the world’s media from the bivouac in Iquique. Also being asked plenty of questions was 2015 Red Bull Frozen Rush champion and three-time Baja 500 winner Bryce Menzies as he got his first up-close look at the world’s toughest race. The American off-road racer made no secret of the fact that it’s his dream to one day race the Dakar Rally.


F5000 Drivers Association Race Schedule Announced

 Rochester, MI — The Formula 5000 Drivers Association has announced its 2015 Revival Races schedule. Continuing on the success of prior years, this four-race series will be held at tracks in Wisconsin, California and Texas from July through November.

Above: The Formula 5000 Drivers Association’s 2015 Revival Races schedule will include Wisconsin’s Road America, two events at Laguna Seca in California, and a grand finale at the Circuit of the Americas in little ol’ Texas. Some 40 cars are expected at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

(photo: The Formula 5000 Registry).

The highlight of the series is participation at the 2015 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “With an expected grid of more than 40 Formula 5000 race cars coming from Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand and various regions of the US, we look forward to some excellent racing and giving fans a great show,” said F5000 Drivers Association president Seb Coppola.

Coppola noted that such a large group of F5000 cars has not competed at Laguna Seca in 40 years. The last professional F5000 race there happened on October 12, 1975. Mario Andretti won it in a Lola T332 now owned by Zak Brown, who plans to race it at Laguna.

Race dates and venues include:

July 16-19

The Hawk with Brian Redman at Road America

August 8-9

Monterey Pre-Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

August 13-16

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

November 4-8

SVRA Vintage National Championship at Circuit of the Americas

The U.S. Formula 5000 Drivers Association was established to promote the restoration, presentation, registration and racing of historic Formula 5000 racecars. The Association organizes vintage racing events and other activities for its members, and also manages a registry of Formula 5000 cars.

Find out more at www.F5000Registry.com.



Chilecito, the January 6th, 2015

Being a debutant does not necessarily mean being slow. In any case, KTM Matthias Walkner gave a fine demonstration of speed to pick up his first stage victory on the Dakar, whilst in the car category Orlando Terranova enjoyed his second success in two days.

After finishing eighth on his very first special on the Dakar, then 6th on the longest special of this year’s edition between Villa Carlos Paz and San Juan, Matthias Walkner decided to take the quickest route to his first stage victory on the Dakar. The Austrian three times MX1-MX3 world champion was in the leading trio at CP2 before going into overdrive, leaving the discipline’s specialists in his wake and writing the first entry on his roll of honour for the King of all rallies at the finish in Chilecito. This performance puts him definitively among the riders to keep an eye on, whilst Marc Coma is being closely watched by all his rivals. After losing more than ten minutes the previous day, the title holder staged a comeback, finishing only 40 seconds behind Walkner.

More importantly, he gained one minute back on Joan Barreda who did not tempt fate and instead made sure of a solid third place to consolidate his leadership in the general standings. Toby Price finished fourth on the stage, to confirm the rookies’ good form, ahead of Barreda’s nearest rival in the general standings, Paulo Goncalves. Alain Duclos put in a fine performance at the end of the stage to put his Sherco in sixth place, whilst the rest of the French contingent is struggling, with in particular the 16th and 21st places of the Yamahas ridden by Michael Metge and Olivier Pain. Laia Sanz, the leading lady, enjoyed a noteworthy performance, finishing 17th on the day’s stage.

A regular occupier of the places of honour, today Lucas Bonetto accomplished his finest stage on a quad, having started in fifteenth position this morning. The Argentinean won in front of his home crowd thanks to a dazzling end to the special, after having trailed Sebastian Halpern at CP2 by three minutes, before beating him by 58 seconds at the finishing line. 2’14 behind the winner, Rafal Sonik took advantage of the mishaps suffered by Ignacio Casale to open up a lead in the general standings.

After crashing at the end of the special on Monday, Orlando Terranova had no intention of leaving his team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah to effortlessly lead the rally. The Argentinean, who has good knowledge of the tracks in his region, produced a sterling effort in the second part of the special after having reached CP1 with a similar time to Giniel de Villiers and Al-Attiyah. In the end, he clawed back almost two minutes on the Toyota driver and more than four minutes on the Qatari general standings leader. This battle was joined by Alrajhi Yazeed who is taking part in his first Dakar and who now occupies a very impressive fifth place in the general standings.

As for the Peugeot team, Carlos Sainz seems to be getting the hang of the new car and improving in performance terms with the day’s fourth place, four minutes behind the day’s winner, even if the Spaniard is still far from being in an ideal position to battle for victory in Buenos Aires, trailing Al-Attiyah by almost 20 minutes in the general standings. Stéphane Peterhansel is also climbing back up the standings even if the Frenchman did lose almost ten minutes to Terranova today, whilst his former team-mate Nani Roma finally put his mishaps behind him with sixth place this Tuesday evening in Chilecito. Third in the general standings this morning, Bernhard Ten Brinke lost 30 minutes and drops down to 8th place.

6th on the first stage and then 3rd on the second, Airat Mardeev has continued his progression with a first stage victory on the Dakar 2015, enabling him to take the lead in the general standings. The Kamaz driver managed to open up a gap of almost two minutes over a second Kamaz driven by Andrey Karginov, the winner in 2014, and a gap of 4’30 over the ever consistent Gerard de Rooy. In the general standings, Mardeev now boasts a lead of eight minutes over his main rivals.