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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.

FORMULA 1

NICO LEAVES FORMULA ONE AND  LCH UNDERSTANDS!

Nico Rosberg retires from Formula 1 after winning world championship . Rosberg says world championship was his dream and ‘now I’ve made it’; Made decision a day after winning title in Abu Dhabi; Mercedes now looking for a new team-mate for Lewis Hamilton

2016 world champion Nico Rosberg has sensationally announced he has retired from Formula 1 with immediate effect.

The German driver, 31, won the title last week, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to his first Drivers’ Championship.

“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became world champion,” said Rosberg. “On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start.”

Rosberg has revealed he took the decision to quit on Monday evening, just 24 hours after sealing his maiden title in the season finale.  Upon informing Toto Wolff, Rosberg says the Mercedes team boss “knew straight away I was completely convinced and that reassured me”. Wolff has described the decision as “brave” and “testament to the strength of his character”.

The Austrian added: “He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as world champion, having achieved his childhood dream. The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me.”

NICO: Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.

This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too – it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting our championship first.

“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion. On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto.

The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a tough situation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people,the Silver Arrows.

“Now, I’m just here to enjoy the moment. There is time to savour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me

FORMULA 1

LCH LOOSES THE 2016 FORMULA 1 DRIVERS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. CONGRATS TO NICO!

Rosberg has won his maiden Formula One world championship. Needing to finish in the top three in Sunday’s final race of the season in Abu Dhabi he was second to his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

But he had to survive a scary few final laps as the outgoing champion ignored team orders and attempted to back Rosberg into the cars behind.

The result means Rosberg has won the tile by five points. The fact that Hamilton has won 10 races to Rosberg’s nine this year will be of no consolation to him.

It was another controlled, calculated race by the German to bring him the title he has always coveted. But he also showed some courage in his overtaking move on Max Verstappen to regain second place, almost colliding before surging into the lead.

But Rosberg had to survive a late fright as Hamilton employed some gamesmanship by slowing down.

With Hamilton leading, Mercedes told him to quicken up. They asked the driver why he was going so slowly, then said: “Lewis this is an instruction, we need 45.1 for the win.” But Hamilton replied: “I suggest you just let us race.”

With Max Verstappen behind Rosberg, and Sebastian Vettel closing fast on fresher rubber, it was a scary moment for Mercedes and Rosberg. The team’s technical director Paddy Lowe came on the radio and said: “Lewis, this is Paddy, we need you to pick up the pace to win this race.”

But again the plea fell on deaf ears. Vettel went past Verstappen to take third and then closed on Rosberg with Hamilton making no attempt to stretch out the pack. “Right now I’m losing the world championship, whether I win or lose this race,” Hamilton said.

Rosberg was reminded that third would be good enough, and with Verstappen struggling on old rubber there was no real threat on the German in the final lap.

But in the end it was the usual one-two for Mercedes, with Vettel third and Verstappen fourth.

FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

25 – 27 NOVEMBER
YAS MARINA CIRCUIT
ROUND 21 OF 21
It’s just seven years since Abu Dhabi arrived on the calendar with Formula One’s first ever twilight race, yet the Yas Marina circuit has already established itself as a staple of the season. The ultra-modern design stands apart thanks to its unique features, including the LED-lit hotel sprawling over the circuit and tunnelled pit lane exit, as well as joining the likes of Monaco and Singapore in boasting a trackside yacht-filled marina. The long straights and open nature of the circuit promote entertaining racing, and the venue was the scene of celebrations for Williams in 2014 as a double podium for Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas secured the team 66 points in the double points system, the most points scored by a team at a single grand prix.
For Abu Dhabi, Pirelli have made available the ultra soft, super soft and soft tyres.
Pat Symonds
After two high altitude races we now head right down to sea level in Abu Dhabi. Although a modern circuit, it is quite challenging with the high-speed areas of turns two and three, and turns 15 and 16, really testing the cars. However, the set-up also needs to allow good low-speed change of direction. The two long straights have independent DRS zones giving drivers two bites at overtaking, or conversely, if they accomplish the overtake on the first straight, they must defend on the second. Pirelli are bringing the ultra soft tyre to this race for the first time, which could prove a difficult tyre to use as the numerous corners that make up sector three may well push this tyre above its ideal operating temperature, particularly as the prescribed pressure is significantly higher than we have used with this tyre before. Unlike Brazil, we can be pretty sure of a dry race here in the desert and, in spite of the introduction of the softer tyre, we would still expect a two-stop to be the favoured strategy.
Valtteri Bottas
Abu Dhabi is a nice place to finish the Formula One season. The facilities are great there and it seems like more and more people come to this race every year. It’s the place where I had my first ever Formula One test in 2011. It’s a good track for racing and it looks very cool with the sunset. We ended the 2014 season there with a double podium so it would be nice to finish this season with another strong result. Normally it’s a good track for our car because of the long straights and short corners and chicanes, so I look forward to it.
Felipe Massa
It’s going to be another emotional one! You try not think about it too much when you’re in the car, you just try to do as good a job as you can. It’s a really nice track to drive, there are lots of fans who really enjoy themselves at the track and outside of the track and it is, of course, a twilight race which is interesting for us and everyone watching. I really hope the final, and 250th race of my Formula One career, can be a fantastic one. We will of course have a big party! Hopefully we can celebrate with a great result.

FORMULA 1

HAAS F1 TEAM, THE FIRST AMERICAN FORMULA ONE TEAM IN 30 YEARS, HAS SIGNED KEVIN MAGNUSSEN TO DRIVE ALONGSIDE VETERAN PILOT ROMAIN GROSJEAN BEGINNING WITH THE 2017 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.

Magnussen, the 24-year-old from Roskilde, Denmark, comes to Haas F1 Team with two years of Formula One experience – one with McLaren in 2014 and one with Renault in 2016. Magnussen finished an impressive second in his Formula One debut at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. He has scored 62 points in 38 grand prix starts leading into Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

“From the time we began looking at drivers, Kevin Magnussen was always on our short list,” said Gene Haas, founder and chairman, Haas F1 Team. “He’s accomplished a lot in a very short period of time, and we feel like he can accomplish a lot with us. Our second season will bring a new set of challenges, and we feel that pairing Kevin with Romain will help us develop our new car and continue our growth.

“I want to thank Esteban Gutiérrez for all of his efforts. He’s been an instrumental part of our first year in Formula One and we’re looking forward to finishing the season strong with him and Romain.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity and I’m very happy to be a part of Haas F1 Team,” Magnussen said. “Obviously, I’m confident in my abilities as a Formula One driver, but I’m also very confident of what Haas F1 Team can do in its second season and every season thereafter. Gene Haas has come into Formula One with a strong vision and a different way of doing things. He’s making it work and work well. I’ve had a good vantage point all season long, and I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of next year’s Haas VF-17.”

Grosjean joined Haas F1 Team in 2016 after spending five Formula One seasons with Lotus F1 Team. The 30-year-old has competed in 101 Formula One races and earned 10 podium finishes and a total of 316 points. He has scored all 29 points for Haas F1 Team to position the outfit eighth in the constructor standings with two races remaining in its debut season.

“A little more than a year ago I made my decision to join Haas F1 Team and it was absolutely the right decision,” Grosjean said. “I’m very proud to be a part of the team’s development and am very happy we can continue to grow and achieve more success in the years ahead.”

“We wanted an experienced driver capable of developing our car and our race team into one that can score points and better itself each race and each season. Romain has done a very good job of that and he’s played a large role in bringing respect and legitimacy to Haas F1 Team,” Haas said. “We have a new set of challenges next year with a new car and a new set of regulations, and his veteran leadership will again prove valuable.”

“As a brand new team with a new car and new personnel, it was incredibly important to have detailed, authoritative feedback of our racecar and our methods so that we could improve. Romain brought a lot of experience to our team and has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today,” added Guenther Steiner, team principal, Haas F1 Team. “Credit also goes to Esteban Gutiérrez for all of his work. His time with Ferrari was very beneficial as it helped get us acquainted with its methodologies and make the most of our partnership with them. He and Romain pushed each other on the track and together they’re responsible for the success we’ve had in our first season.”

 

FORMULA 1

RICCIARDO WINS IN MALAYSIA MAX IN SECOND KABLAMO FOR LCH

DANIEL RICCIARDO,   “What a day, I’m feeling a bit emotional and overwhelmed! It’s been a long time between drinks! A couple of weeks ago I said we’d win a race this year but to be honest I didn’t expect a win to come at this circuit. This is probably the sweatiest race to win and do a shoey, but for me it’s not so bad, I felt a bit sorry for the others though having to drink from my shoe, but the crowd was encouraging me! We had an opportunity today that we needed to capitalise on and I was determined to not let it go. We had a good battle with Max, he is a hard racer and we have that in common. We fought hard and aggressive but I think we showed we can push to the limit but still keep it on the track. We had a fair and clean fight and I think we both enjoyed it. My tyres were a little more tired than his but I was going to hold him off as long as I could. When the Virtual Safety Car came out and we both came into the pits for new tyres, that made me a little more comfortable for the last stint. This year has been an awesome year of progression for the team. We started the year a step higher from last year and kept going and getting better, and it really is amazing to win at this circuit. I want to thank the team for making this all possible and I’m very grateful for today. After Monaco I had a lot of mixed emotions and it was a hard one to take but I felt as a team we came through that stronger and better. I want to thank my parents and my sister as well for the support they gave me growing up. I also want to dedicate the win to Jules (Bianchi), I have been waiting for a victory to dedicate to him. My life definitely changed since that incident and I am extremely grateful and appreciative of everything I’ve got.”
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 2nd, Start Position: 3rd   
“Having both drivers on the top two steps of the podium is a fantastic result for the team. I was really pleased about my start, finally it worked well again and put me right up there into turn one. I was then compromised due to Sebastian’s move, I had to avoid his collision with Nico which meant I lost a few places. The time I lost ultimately cost me at the end of the race along with a few unfortunate Virtual Safety Cars, but that is racing. Once I had the hard compound on I was catching guys ahead. The battle with Daniel during the race was great and really good fun. We have a lot of respect for each other so you can see we gave plenty of space but were still able to push hard. I got close to being in the DRS activation zone but my rubber was slightly older and overheating so I just couldn’t get within range and attack. The team told us we were free to race as long as we kept it clean, which we did. It is really nice to hear that from the radio. I think we had the race pace and speed to win today but we have to be very happy to settle for a perfect one-two for the team.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “An unbelievable day today. To achieve a first and second in the Malaysian Grand Prix is beyond our wildest expectations. The race had an interesting start with a bit of action at the first corner which Sebastian triggered, costing Max particularly quite a bit of time. Thereafter both drivers settled into a rhythm and after the first Virtual Safety Car we decided to take a little bit of a risk with an early stop for Max which put him out of sequence with the other cars. Daniel was going well and by the time they got through the first stop on to the hard tyre it looked like a one-stop might be feasible. The drivers were racing each other firmly but fairly, the only instruction from the team was to keep it clean. We saw some great racing; at one point side by side at turns 5 and 6. Then unfortunately for Lewis his engine let go causing the next virtual safety car, and we took the opportunity to ensure that both drivers could get to the end of the race on a new set of soft tyres. Then it was a straight fight between the two of them to get to the chequered flag, and Daniel had just enough in hand to maintain a margin and complete a Red Bull Racing one-two finish, our first since Brazil 2013. It’s a culmination of a great amount of teamwork both trackside and from everyone else back in the factory. It’s fantastic for Red Bull and for all of our partners. Our thanks also to all of the hard work that’s been put in by the people at Viry in delivering a great package for our TAG Heuer branded engine.”