CITROËN BEGINS A NEW CHAPTER IN ITS SPORTING HISTORY WITH THE C3 WRC
The moment that WRC fans have been desperately waiting for is finally upon us: in a few days, the 2017 World Rally Championship will get underway on the stages of the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo. The Citroën C3 WRC – designed to meet the new FIA regulations – will be making its competitive debut. Driven by Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau, two cars have been entered for this, the opening round of the season.
RALLYE MONTE-CARLO: SIMPLY ICONIC!
Quite apart from the prestige invoked by its name, Rallye Monte-Carlo owes much of its reputation to the unpredictability of the racing conditions. In January, the roads in the hills of the south-west of France can be snow-covered, icy, wet or… just dry! The most “amusing” part is that a single stage can feature all of these conditions. Tyre choice is therefore of critical importance here. It’s all about estimating, for an entire loop of stages, what represents the best compromise. Gaps can open up and disappear very quickly, making the race even more exciting…
On this, the 85th running of the event, the oldest rally in the world will be spread over four days of racing. On Thursday, 19 January, the rally will get underway in the evening, with the ceremonial start in Monaco. The crews will then head towards Gap, where they will tackle two evening stages, one of which is new this year. After a short night’s rest, day two promises to be incredibly intense, with two loops of three stages contested in the Isère and Hautes-Alpes departments. On Saturday, the competitors return to Monaco, completing five stages on the way. The final leg, contested with no service, will see the crews tackle the famous Col de Turini. The rally is scheduled to finish in the Principality on Sunday, 22 January, in the early afternoon.
Major moves are made on Stage 10 of the 2017 Dakar Rally
It was back to business with a bang today as the 2017 Dakar Rally recommenced on the route between Chilecito and San Juan in Argentina. With the finish line now within touching distance there was no let up in pace at the front of the race during the 449km timed special stage run amid temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.
Looking to recapture the truck race title he won in 2013 is Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) of Team Kamaz Master. The Russian trucker did his chances of success the power of good on Stage 10 as he set the day’s fastest time. The result sees Nikolaev leapfrog his Kamaz team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) who finished second on today’s stage and now holds the runners-up spot in the general classification. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) came home third on the stage to give Kamaz a richly deserved 1-2-3 result.
1-2-3 results have been common place for Team Peugeot Total during this edition of motorsport’s toughest test of endurance. Peugeot’s latest clean sweep saw Sébastien Loeb (FRA) take the stage’s scratch time with team-mates Cyril Despres (FRA) and Stéphane Perterhansel (FRA) following him home.
With two stages remaining Loeb leads the car race although this result is subject to change this evening once Peterhansel is given back the time he spent assisting injured Slovenian biker Simon Marčič on Stage Ten. The closest challenger to third place Despres is Nani Roma (ESP) who lies nearly an hour behind the former biker in fourth overall.
Over on the bikes there was another assured performance by Sam Sunderland (GBR) who continues to break new ground while leading the race. Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s British biker got his tactics spot on to maintain a lead of 30 minutes at the head of the race. Sunderland’s KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) can also be pleased with his day’s work as he climbed onto the overall podium to hold second place overnight.
In the quad race Ignacio Casale (CHL) continues to take the fight to category leader Sergey Karyakin (RUS). It was the Russian setting the pace today, but Casale hung on to eventually concede a little more than 10 minutes to his rival. There’s now 21m05s separating runner-up Casale and race leader Karyakin.
Tomorrow brings with it the penultimate stage as the Dakar departs San Juan for Rio Cuarto. With close to 300km to be raced over a mixture of dunes and fast WRC-style tracks. Racers will be faced with the tactical decision of holding the positions they’ve all worked so hard for or risking it all for a leap up the rankings.
The stage is set for a grand finale at the 2017 Dakar Rally
The 9,000km of the 2017 Dakar Rally is coming to a close with the Buenos Aires finish line now just three days away. With racing suspended on Wednesday due to raging thunderstorms and landslides we get back underway tomorrow as the Dakar convoy heads south through Argentina.
Dakar competitors were given the chance to recharge their batteries as they travelled the 675km between Salta and Chilecito over tarmac due to the cancelation of today’s stage. This gave the guys at the front of the race the chance to devise their tactics for the final few stages of the contest.
After coming through the marathon stage with his lead intact Sam Sunderland (GBR) is breaking new ground in his Dakar career having never previously made it to the second week of the race. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider currently enjoys a cushion of just over 20 minutes from Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) in second place. Sunderland’s team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) is another rider yet to cross the finish line at his previous Dakar attempts. The Austrian biker is currently fourth overall, 34m14s behind Sunderland, and has his sights set on a podium finish.
The gaps are tighter at the head of the car race with less than two minutes separating race leader Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and his Peugeot team-mate Stéphane Perterhansel (FRA). Monsieur Rally and Monsieur Dakar will go head-to-head once again on tomorrow’s 449km timed special stage between Chilecito and San Juan. Occupying the final podium spot is Cyril Despres (FRA), also of Team Peugeot Total, as the five-time Dakar bike race winner continues to impress on four wheels.
A bittersweet Stage Eight for Team Kamaz Master allowed them take the lead of the truck race but also saw Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), 2015 winner, lose time due to getting stuck in the sand. The new name at the top of the general classification is Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) who leads his Kamaz team-mate Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) by 1m46s. Waiting for the chance to fight back on Stage Ten is defending truck race champion Gerard De Rooy (NDL). If you’re after late fireworks then keep your eyes on these big beasts going flat out for the final few days.
A win on Stage Eight of the quad category was a signal of intent from Ignacio Casale (CHL) as he brought race leader Sergey Karyakin (RUS) into sight. With three Dakar days remaining the Chilean in third overall is a little over ten minutes behind Karyakin.
When the Dakar gets back underway tomorrow expect soaring temperatures to play their part as the racers try to retrieve their rhythm. The navigational challenges that have been a trademark of this Dakar are also back with a vengeance on the route to San Juan. With Buenos Aires now less than 2,000km away every kilometre is crucial as the gaps between glory and agony begin to close.
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.
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.