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DAKAR RALLY

Stéphane Peterhansel puts the hammer down on the dunes © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Dakar gets back to business with a bang on epic marathon stage

The midpoint Rest Day of the 2017 Dakar Rally is already a distant memory as racers are left fending for themselves on the fringes of the world’s largest salt flat in Uyuni, Bolivia. Stage Seven is the first half of this year’s marathon stage so every competitor still in the race spends tonight separated from their mechanics and any work needed on their machines must be performed solo.

Adding to the increased difficulty that comes with a marathon stage have been the “extreme climatic conditions” we have been experiencing in Bolivia. Heavy downpours of rain have played havoc with the course and a redesigned Stage Seven gave us a timed special stage of 161km over mostly sandy terrain. Taking a vantage point of the action today was windsurfing legend Robby Naish who after touring the Rest Day bivouac got to see those same machines unleashed over open country.

Naish had a firsthand look at one of the day’s most impressive performances as Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) upped his lead in the car category with a stage win. The 12-time Dakar champion increased his advantage over fellow Team Peugeot Total driver Sébastien Loeb (FRA) by 48 seconds with the difference between the two Frenchman in first and second overall now standing at a tantalising 1m57s.

Cyril Despres (FRA), the third PEUGEOT 3008 DKR driver, slips back to fourth overall after conceding nine minutes to Peterhansel on Stage Seven. Meanwhile, there was something to celebrate for Giniel De Villiers (ZAF) of Toyota Gazoo Racing who secured a podium finish on today’s stage behind Despres’ two Peugeot team-mates.

The bikes were first to tackle today’s route and opening the road was Sam Sunderland (GBR) of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team. Despite a navigation hiccup 38 kilometres into the special the race leader was able to recover and maintains his position at the top of the general classification overnight. Sunderland’s team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) is also in with a shout of a podium finish with the Austrian biker in fifth place overall. Considering neither rider has ever completed an entire Dakar Rally their achievements to date have been mightily impressive.

Elsewhere in the race, local crowds were on their feet to cheer Bolivian biker Walter Nosiglia Jager who secured a Top 10 finish on the stage in his homeland.

A podium finish on today’s quad stage has kept Ignacio Casale (CHL) in contact with race leader Sergey Karyakin (RUS). Thanks to Casale arriving in Uyuni as the third quickest quad biker he now stands 16 minutes behind Karyakin who will open the road tomorrow.

An already shortened stage was reduced by a further 20km for the truck class due to the final part of the track proving impassable even for the Dakar’s biggest beasts. Defending champion Gerard De Rooy (NLD) once again reacted well to the Team Kamaz Master trio of Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) and Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) breathing down his neck. De Rooy keeps his overall lead despite Sotnikov’s stage win who now sits second overall with Nikolaev third and Mardeev fourth.

Competitors with sound mechanical knowhow will hope to be rewarded tomorrow on the second half of the marathon stage. The timed special stage will account for 492km of the total 892km to be covered on Tuesday. For the 255 of the 318 vehicles that started the first stage in Paraguay still in the race the next challenge is to safely reach the Salta bivouac after recrossing the border into Argentina.

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.

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

 

F1Weekly podcast #716

CLARK AND NASIR GO INTO OVERTIME WITH THEIR 2016 FORMULA 1 SEASON REVIEW PART ONE. THE HOST IS BULLISH ON THE UPCOMING SEASON AND IS ALSO EXCITED ABOUT THIS NEWS FROM CITROEN…!!

CITROËN LAUNCHES A NEW ASSAULT ON THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THE C3 WRC

  • One month before the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship gets underway at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, Citroën Racing officially unveils its C3 WRC in Abu Dhabi.
  • Complying with the new FIA regulations, which see the introduction of a new generation of very spectacular World Rally Cars, the C3 WRC heralds the return of Citroën as a works team in a discipline in which the Brand holds a record 96 race wins and eight world titles.
  • In the 2017 season, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT will enter two to four C3 WRCs for its crews: Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Craig Breen/Scott Martin, Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson.

 

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