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It takes an entire year to prepare for the toughest race on the planet – and finally the wait is over as the bravest petrolheads in the world rev up their engines on the start line of the 2016 Dakar Rally. Among the 556 competitors signed up for the gruelling two-week challenge in South America are the Red Bull Desert Wings squad. Ranging from battled-hardened veterans to wide-eyed rookies, the Desert Wings are aiming for the top prize in all four categories at this year’s desert classic.

As the various crews arrived in Buenos Aires during the final days of 2015 to complete the necessary pre-race scrutineering checks, the most relaxed customer was undoubtedly Nasser Al-Attiyah. The reigning champion returns with co-driver Mathieu Baumel and the MINI that has accompanied them on a serial winning streak, which started in South America 12 months ago.

Also racing MINIs this time round will be Red Bull-backed Polish drivers Adam Malysz andKuba Przygonski, accompanied by Xavier Panseri and Andrei Rudnitski respectively. Adam, a multiple Ski Jump World Cup winner, is back for his fifth Dakar while Kuba is on four wheels for the first time after successfully completing the bike race five times, including a pair of top-10 finishes.

Team Peugeot-Total have a new car and some fresh faces as they return to the race following a mixed bag of results last time out. Sébastien Loeb has joined the ranks of motorsport royalty thanks to his nine consecutive World Rally Championship titles, and there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding his first attempt at the Dakar. Sébastien takes the wheel of his PEUGEOT 2008DKR16 alongside long-standing co-driver Daniel Elena. Elsewhere in Peugeot’s stellar line-up are three crews with 17 Dakar victories between them: Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret, Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz and Cyril Despres/David Castera.

Looking to nudge past both the Peugeot and MINI challengers will be the Toyota Hiluxes ofGiniel de Villiers and Marek Dabrowski. Giniel, along with co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz, is a former Dakar champion and has also claimed three second-place finishes in the past five editions of the race. Marek and his right-hand man Jacek Czachor were the best-placed rookies with seventh place at the 2014 Dakar, and once again have their sights on the top 10.



Success breeds success. That seems to be the case in the young life and fast times of F1Weekly friend, Enaam Ahmed. In 2014, at the age of 14, he won five junior karting titles with Ricky Flynn Motorsports, including the European and World Karting Championships. This achievement put him a year ahead of a certain Lewis Hamilton who was 15 when he triumphed in the 2000 European and World karting championships.

The newly launched Formula MSA, with backing and blessings of the FIA, was Enaam’s stomping ground in 2015. After a challenging first half of the season, Enaam began the push to the front. His reward was the Rookie of the Year title and the season finale at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, located in beautiful Kent countryside, saw Enaam take his first win of the season in the UK-based series.

Going places.

The FIA initiative to provide a decent budget single-seater championship for young drivers graduating from karts to cars has seen the launch of Formula 4 in major motorsports market. In continental Europe, the Italian F4 was launched last year and, apart from the UK Formula MSA, the 2015 season also saw the launch of the German F4 and the NEZ F4 championship, the latter catering to Nordic, Baltic and Russian markets.

Enaam sampled some of the rounds in the NEZ category. Highlight of his overseas campaign was winning all three races in the final round at Parnu, Estonia.

Forward looking statement

In preparation for the 2016 season, the London lad recently took part in the Spanish F4 Winter series. The two round series held three races at Jerez de la Frontera, (Dec. 4-6)famous for the 1986 last lap duel that ended in one of the closest finishes in F1grand prix racing history (Senna vs Mansell), and three races at the beautiful Portimao circuit (Dec. 11-13) in Algarve, Portugal.


In the opening round Enaam was on the podium in all three races, a pair of third and a second place finish in the second race of the weekend. Making the job very hard to grab the championship prize of EU 75,000 was the fact that all three races of the Spanish round were won by the more experienced 17-year old Finn Simo Laaksonen.

The reign in Spain may have shined on Simo but the tide and weather was turning in Portugal after Enaam won the opening race of weekend after leading from start to finish. He was about half a second faster in every wet practice session

Enaam raced to another dominant win in the second race, his chances of winning the rich prize, unheard of in entry-level racing, were boosted as Laaksonen was eliminated early in the race after colliding with Canadian Devlin Defrancessco. Enaam’s victory slipped to second place finish after he was given a five second penalty for not slowing down sufficiently under a yellow flag. The penalty left him with only one point ahead of Laaksonen going into the crucial and final race of the winter series.

The one point lead came with excess baggage. Laaksonen’s early exit in race two meant he had better tires for the EU75k grab fest. When the lights went out, it was game on for the two young combatants. Enaam shot into the lead at the start and held the Finn at bay, but on lap 9 Laaksonen went ahead. This turned out to be short lived as Enaam went on the outside at turn 10 to regain the lead.

The Winter Series Champion in his own words; “That was the hardest race of my life! Laaksonens tires were so much better so I knew I would have to defend hard. Fair play to Simo, he gave me racing room, and it was a very fair fight

“I have to thank Koiranen GP for this opportunity….where else do you win prize money like this?! It’s awesome! I also have to thank my dad and the guys at Edge management for helping and guiding me to this win.”



Renault e.dams celebrated its second victory of the season at Round 3 of the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship this weekend (December 19) where Sebastien Buemi won the Punta del Este ePrix, putting him and the team back into the top spot in the Drivers’ and Teams’ standings.

The Swiss driver’s day didn’t get off to the best start under the Uruguayan sun after a crash in FP2 caused considerable damage to the #9 Renault Z.E.15. His luck didn’t turn around come qualifying where, despite setting the fastest time during the group stages, a mistake on his Super Pole lap saw him do no better than fifth.

For his Renault e.dams team-mate, Nico Prost, qualifying was similarly frustrating. The Frenchman was quickest during his group, but was later pushed out of the top five and started the 33-lap contest alongside Sebastien in sixth.

Making the most of his position on the grid to make a move on Lucas di Grassi for fourth, Sebastien got off to a fantastic start. From there, he expertly picked his way through the pack en route to his second victory of the 2015/16 season, repeating his success from last year.

Unfortunately a poor start for Nico saw him lose one position straightaway. However, a strong performance from the Frenchman meant that he was able to work his way up to fifth by the time the chequered flag fell, securing 10 points towards his championship campaign.
#8 Nico Prost: “I am a bit disappointed about the result because I felt like I had more pace here than in the first two races. I seemed to struggle with the same corner every session and didn’t feel quite as comfortable as I would’ve liked. That said, we’ve scored some important points today for the championship and we’ll have to see what we can do in Buenos Aires.”

#9 Sebastien Buemi: “Firstly, I’m so grateful to the team who worked so hard to get the car ready to race after my crash in FP2. The result today was really a combined effort from everyone; you don’t win because of just the car, or just because of the motor. It’s a team effort, and was a great reward for all of us after the disappointment in Malaysia.”

Jean-Paul Driot, Senior Team Manager: “Today’s win was really important for us following the problems we encountered in Putrajaya, which we can see now have been resolved. However, the work doesn’t stop there; we will keep on developing the car in order to continue winning races. But at least we can all go into the Christmas break with a solid result.”

Alain Prost, Senior Team Manager: “We’re all really happy with the result here in Uruguay, especially after the day we had! The team did a fantastic job to turn the car around after Sebastien’s crash during practice. This result means we can go into the New Year feeling positive and ready to race in Argentina.”
Renault e.dams return to South America in the New Year for the fourth round of the FIA Formula E Championship, the Buenos Aires ePrix (February 6).
1 Sebastien Buemi (Renault e.dams)
2 Lucas di Grassi (ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport)
3 Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dragon Racing)
4 Loic Duval (Dragon Racing)
5 Nicolas Prost (Renault e.dams)

F1Weekly podcast # 695


This week Daniel jetted back to his home city of Perth where he was set to appear at Sunday’s Perth Speedfest, a massive homage to all things motorized and fast. Before that though, Daniel and the showcar crew had a little surprise in store for the citizens of the Western Australian capital – taking the double title-winning RB7 out for a breakfast-time hoon around St George’s Terrace.

Daniel blasted between the lights of the CBD’s main drag three times before treating a shocked but thrilled crowd to some tyre-melting donuts. Speaking after his early morning dose of donuts, he said: “It’s obviously nice to be home for starters and to drive the RB7 through my city streets. It woke me up and certainly made the jet lag a bit easier to deal with! It definitely got me alert. It’s nice to bring such a show to Perth.”

“I came home at the best time of the year: it’s summer, it’s Christmas, everyone is in a great mood”– Daniel Ricciardo

The 8am burnouts were a teaser for Sunday’s main event, the first Perth Speedfest. The huge show featured more than 60 separate events across 25 different motorsport disciplines on five customised track layouts at Perth Motorplex.

Daniel joined a stellar array of Aussie racing royalty at the show, including 1980 F1 champ Alan Jones, Moto GP rider Jack Miller, V8 Supercars stars Will Davison, Alex Davison and Nick Percat, as well as Superbikes ace Wayne Maxwell, Red Bull X-Fighter Josh Sheehan and WRC star Alistair McRae. After a morning of media commitments, Daniel took to his first run on the Perth Motorplex track, which consisted of a short track, with a drag strip in the middle.

In front of a crowd of 10,000, the Honey Badger completed three, three-lap runs in the RB7, before hitting the event’s ‘snake pit’ burn out pad to reprise the rubber-smoking series of donuts he’d shown off with the previous morning.

Then it was time for the big face-off, the RB7 against three other top-line motorsport machines. First up was a racing Lamborghini but Daniel made short work of the sports car on the prepared drag strip. Next up was Nick Percat in his V8 Supercars Holden Commodore and this proved to be a close affair, with the 5.0L V8 –powered saloon car and its 640hp making the battle (briefly) interesting, but once again the RB7 emerged victorious.

“It was interesting going up against a few different cars and putting the car to the test on the drag. Now I can veg out!”– Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel’s final run was against a Funny Car dragster and this time, on the drag racers home turf, things were not so easy. With a Funny Car putting out upwards of 8,000hp to the F1 car’s 800 or so and with the dragster capable of hitting 100km/h in around 0.5s, the RB7 was always going to struggle in a straight line and so it proved. However, give us some corners and we know we’d put that bad boy in its place.
There was only one way to restore pride: hit the snake pit for more huge burnouts and donuts to finish off the event in style. “I know a lot of people travel from Perth for the grand prix (in Melbourne), but it’s great to be able to bring the show to the guys in WA,” said Daniel afterwards. “I know a lot of my fans are here, so it’s great to bring F1 here and take a bit of that travel away for them at this time of year.

“It was interesting going up against a few different cars and putting the car to the test on the drag. Now I can veg out! But, seriously, it’s great to be involved in bringing and event like this to Perth and to get the F1 car here is obviously a massive effort from the organisers and also the team to bring it out here, I was more than happy to be involved and make it as good a weekend as it could be.”

“I came home at the best time of the year: it’s summer, it’s Christmas, everyone is in a great mood and obviously being here with Alan Jones and being among other Aussie motorsport stars with so much of my family here as well, it just makes it that bit better. Half the people here are probably related to me! Or at least say they are!”

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Renault Duster Dakar Team targeting top-10 finish on 2016 Dakar

Renault Duster Dakar Team’s fourth attempt at the Dakar will seek to build on the experience gained during the past three events in a bid to finish inside the overall top-10.

The two-car line-up features drivers Emilio Spataro and Frenchman Christian Lavieille, along with their respective co-drivers

Benjamin Lozada and Jean Michel Polato.Renault Duster Dakar Team stands out as one of the 2016 event’s most competitive entries and enjoys the support of the brand’s motorsport division, Renault Sport Technologies, which has brought its technological expertise and cross-country rally experience to the table.


Renault Duster Dakar Team’s Dakar debut dates back to the 2013 event when Mendoza-based José García and Mauricio Malano came 29th overall.

The following January saw Emiliano Spataro and Benjamín Lozada use this experience to claim 14th overall and fourth in Class 1.
In 2015, the team’s third straight participation with the Renault Duster was rewarded with the best result for an Argentine team and, for the second year running, for an all-Argentine crew in an Argentine-prepared car.
Meanwhile, Spataro and Lozada were the event’s second-best Argentine finishers after coming third the previous year. They also obtained five top-10 stage finishes, including two inside the top three and another inside the top five.
For the 2016 Dakar, Renault Sport Technologies has once again brought its experience of cross-country rallying and advanced technology to the table.

The team’s preparations ahead of the Dakar focused notably on reducing the Duster’s weight, improving its chassis and increasing the power output of its Renault-Nissan Alliance VK-50 V8 engine to 387hp.

Recent months have been spent providing in-depth training to the 30 mechanics, technicians and engineers who will care for the two Dusters during January’s rally. Work has also gone into consolidating the team’s logistics.

The 2016 Dakar promises to be another extremely challenging marathon and will feature competitive action in Argentina and Bolivia.

To coincide with the 2016 Dakar, Renault has introduced the new limited-edition Renault Duster Dakar. Based on the model’s Dynamique equipment level, it incorporates a number of embellishments to underline the model’s sporty look.

The Renault Duster Dakar sits on exclusive, black, 26-inch diamond-effect wheels, while the ‘Dakar Spirit’ badging and ‘Dakar’ logo visible on the sills and beneath the door mirrors respectively point to the car’s adventurer credentials.
Inside, the Duster’s comfortable, roomy cabin features a number of styling details which fit perfectly with the Dakar spirit (Dakar logo on the front head rests and steering wheel, exclusive upholstery and colour detailing on the door panels and dashboard).

In addition to the rally’s visits to Villa Carlos Paz, Rosario and Salta (rest day), the brand has organised encounters along the route with customers and fans who will be able to take part in a range of games and other activities



Sebastien Loeb, Yvan Muller, Yves Matton and Jose Maria Lopez, portrait during the FIA Prize Giving 2015 on December 4th 2015, at Paris, France. Photo Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPIConcluding the 2015 motorsport season, the FIA Prize-Giving ceremony saw this year’s World Champions receive their official awards, including José María López and Citroën. Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal, took time to talk to us about the successful defences of these two WTCC titles and recent news. 

Like last year, Citroën monopolised the FIA WTCC World Championship podium…
“You could even say it’s a shame that the podium doesn’t have four steps, as we secured a clean sweep of the top-four places, with José María López, Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua! It’s a historic result, something that has never been achieved before in the WTCC or the PSA Peugeot Citroën group. In winning 21 races out of 24, the team set a new record for the total number of points scored in one season. In the Drivers’ championship, Pechito López also broke or equalled several records. It cannot be overemphasized, however, that it’s a real team effort. There are the drivers, the engineers and the mechanics, but there are also people behind the scenes, whose work often goes unseen. It is equally worth pointing out that this is Citroën’s fifteenth world title, after those obtained in cross-country rallying and the WRC.”

The recent FIA World Motor Sport Council introduced changes in the WTCC regulations. How do you feel about these new features?
“Some of the changes, like the MAC3 (Manufacturers Against the Clock time-trial concept) or the concept of an opening race and a main race are at least attempts to explore new ideas. But we’ll have to wait and see if, after a few meetings, these changes really add anything in terms of media coverage and interest, excitement or suspense. We are obviously not in agreement as regards the new rules for weight compensation, which have been drawn up principally to penalise the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs. The system in force for the last few years seemed to be satisfactory to the various parties. But instead of complaining, I would rather see this change as yet further evidence of the exceptionally high standards set by the team, the car and the drivers. We are now concentrating fully on the 2016 season; everyone is motivated to work even harder, stay ahead of our rivals and keep on winning. We’ll certainly be looking to defend our titles.”

The last few weeks have seen many reactions to the end of Citroën and Sébastien Loeb’s working relationship. What can you say to the fans who don’t seem to understand?
“Intense media scrutiny and the search for sensational stories can sometimes overstate and distort reactions. Seb wasn’t ‘fired’, as has been suggested in some quarters. He is stiIl part of the PSA Peugeot Citroën group and his new challenge with Peugeot Sport is not some sort of plan B, in view of his exceptional career. He chose to commit himself fully to the Rally Dakar adventure and we’ll be following his progress with great interest! There’s no denying that this undoubtedly marks the end of a great chapter in the history of Citroën Racing. Our sense of nostalgia will shortly give way to recollection of some great memories. On a personal level, I’m proud and happy to have worked alongside Seb at various stages of his career with Citroën.”

The PSA Peugeot Citroën group recently announced the appointment of Jean-Marc Finot as Director of the Motorsport Centre of Excellence. What impact will this have on your role?
“Effective on 1 January 2016, Jean-Marc Finot will oversee the grouping together of the group’s motorsport activities for the three brands. By September 2016, we will all be working at the Versailles Satory site. The motorsport entries will then be managed by Xavier Mestelan for DS Performance and me for Citroën Racing. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Xavier on his appointment. We have experienced and enjoyed some great times together, both in WRC and WTCC, and his expertise shall be invaluable on the Formula E circuits. I will also hold a role as representative of the PSA Group on motorsport development matters. That means I will be the point of contact with the governing bodies, the championship promoters and the other manufacturers in working groups on category development and the future of motorsport. Output from this forward-looking approach will feed into discussions at PSA Peugeot Citroën about the group’s current and future involvement in motorsport.”