After Thursday evening’s glamorous Monte-Carlo start in Casino Square, two tough stages in darkness in the Alps punctuate the run up to Gap.
Two loops of three remote tests south of the town form a compact but tiring Friday, which contains almost 145km of against-the-clock action.
Equally gruelling third leg on Saturday features five more stages, all but one north of Gap, before the last service of the rally there and a long journey back to Monaco.
Sunday’s finale, as is traditional, runs in the Alpes Maritimes mountains above the Principality and features two passes over the legendary Col de Turini.
Col de Turini. One of the sport’s iconic locations, where enormous crowds will gather to watch competitors cross the mountain summit in the La Bollene Vesubie – Peira Cava test in the final leg. An incredible atmosphere and a ‘must-do’ for visitors.
Four category wins for Desert Wings at 40th anniversary of Dakar
Saturday, January 20 Córdoba, Argentina
Relief, exhaustion and uncontrollable joy were the mix of emotions at the finish line of the 2018 Dakar Rally. After a 9,000-kilometre, two-week trip through South America every competitor reaching the end of the Dakar is a certified legend. As for the members of the Red Bull Desert Wings squad tasting victory, well those guys are above and beyond.
Take Carlos Sainz (ESP) of Team Peugeot Total for example. Already a titan of offroad racing thanks to two World Rally Championship titles plus a previous Dakar win before we even got started this year. ‘El Matador’ maybe in the final straight of his illustrious career but he showed he still has what it takes to pick up the big prizes. As the car category’s frontrunners slipped up one-by-one, Sainz and co-driver Lucas Cruz (ESP) kept their cool to take first place and hold it for the entire second week of the Dakar. Sainz and Cruz’s victory represents the third consecutive Dakar win for Team Peugeot Total.
“This is the hardest Dakar I’ve ever done and that includes the races I did in Africa.” – Carlos Sainz
Joining Sainz on the podium were the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA crews of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) and Giniel De Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (GER). Nasser fought back from a tough first week of racing to make sure there was pressure on Sainz all the way to the finish line. This runners-up finish is the Qatari’s 6th overall podium of a Dakar career which includes two victories.
“In the first week when we had so many problems I thought our chance to finish on the podium had gone.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
A late charge up the general classification also saw De Villiers claim another podium finish, but that shouldn’t surprise us too much considering he now has a total of 12 Top 5 finishes at this event.
“This has been a great way to mark the 40th anniversary of the Dakar. The race has been tough and so unpredictable.” – Giniel De Villiers
While we’re on the subject of highly-decorated Dakar contestants we have to mention 13-time Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) and his co-driver Jean Paul Cottret (FRA). At the Rest Day Stéphane was in the lead and on course for win number 14, but a tough second week saw him finish up in fourth overall. Sainz and Peterhansel’s fellow Peugeot driver Cyril Despres (FRA) played his part in the French manufacturer’s victory as he came to the aid of his team-mates time and time again along with co-driver David Castera (FRA).
“Unfortunately we lost our chance to win in the first week but after that we did what we could to make sure one of our team-mates would win.” – Cyril Despres
It’s also hats off to Kuba Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) who parked their MINI in fifth place overall. The result is Przygonski’s best ever Dakar finish in nine attempts spanning both the bike and car categories.
“For me it was the toughest Dakar I have ever experienced. This is my 9th Dakar so I already knew something about this race, but this year it was something different.” – Kuba Przygonski
Carlos Sainz: “I’m extremely happy with the way things have gone at this Dakar. There are a lot of people behind this victory so I say a big thank you to all the members of Team Peugeot Total and to Red Bull and all our other sponsors. Also thanks to my co-driver Lucas and to all my family. When you have such a big lead it’s easy to lose concentration or start to go a little bit too slow. Keeping this under control was the big job during this second week. This is the hardest Dakar I’ve ever done, and that includes the races I did in Africa.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “Considering all the problems we had in the first week of this rally I think to finish in second place is a good result for us. I’m thankful for all the support from Toyota Gazoo Racing SA. Everybody was working so hard and I’m glad I could give the team this result as a way to say thank you. In the first week when we had so many problems I thought our chance to finish on the podium had gone. But we did a good job fighting back and second place is not bad.”
Giniel De Villiers: “When you come to this race you want to finish on the podium so we’re happy to be up there again. I think this is the toughest Dakar we’ve had in South America for sure. This has been a great way to mark the 40th anniversary of the Dakar. The race has been tough and so unpredictable. Exciting things have been happening on every stage and the leaderboard has changed so much. For Toyota to be two and three on the podium is fantastic and we say well done to Carlos who deserves his win.”
Stéphane Peterhansel: “It was a crazy Dakar. Lots of top riders were having crashes and suffering problems. We did two big mistakes ourselves and lost a lot of time. Our first problem was just before Uyuni and the second one came yesterday. If we add those two incidents up we lost about three hours. That’s too much time to lose if you want to win the Dakar.”
Cyril Despres: “This was a nice edition, starting from Peru. The Dakar needs desert, it needs dunes and open space and we found all this in Peru. We’ve been enjoying this Peugeot team spirit for four years now and it was in evidence again this time. Unfortunately we lost our chance to win in the first week but after that we did what we could to make sure one of our team-mates would win.”
Kuba Przygonski: “We’re so happy to be here at the finish. For me it was the toughest Dakar I have ever experienced. This is my 9th Dakar so I already knew something about this race, but this year it was something different. We had a good time inside the car with my co-driver Tom. We had no big issues with the car and we were able to keep a good rhythm throughout. I think we’re the youngest guys in the Top 10 so maybe we can keep improving in the future.”
Newport Beach, CA — Following Dan Gurney’s death Sunday (Jan. 14) from complications with pneumonia, accolades for and tributes to the American hero of auto racing have been plentiful and poignant.
–From the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on Gurney attending Jim Clark’s funeral in April 1968:
Gurney attended the service, along with virtually the entire Grand Prix brigade, but with the angular Gurney standing head and shoulders above his colleagues. At one point, a gentleman came over and asked Gurney if he could spend a few private moments with him away from the others.
The gentleman identified himself as Clark’s father. He went on to explain that the family had seen very little of Jimmy in recent months, after the crippling British tax laws had forced him into following in the footsteps of so many others in the sports world and in show business by moving to the continent, and typically to the south of France.
“But when we did spend time with him,” Mr. Clark continued, “and Jimmy started discussing the other drivers with us, I wanted you to know that he told us on more than one occasion that the one he said he ‘feared’ the most as a competitor was you.”
The report is that Gurney began to weep, and indeed, decades later, tears would typically come to his eyes whenever this was mentioned.
–-From David Malsher, U.S. editor, Motorsport.com:
But that 1967 season also saw Gurney truly step up to all-American hero status. He had first transcended motorsport’s narrow boundaries three years earlier when Car & Drivermagazine started a tongue-in-cheek campaign with a Dan Gurney for President campaign.
Now, in one stunning three-week period, Gurney had finished second in the Indianapolis 500, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with A.J. Foyt in a Ford GT40 MkIV, and conquered Spa [Belgian Grand Prix] in a Formula 1 car of his own construction. Oh, and he had started the now traditional champagne-shake for race winners, after spraying Henry Ford II on the podium at Le Mans…
Along the way, he invented the Gurney Flap, a right-angle extension on the upper trailing edge of the [race car’s] rear wing that increases down force. It is used today on just about every race car that has wings. He was also the first big-time driver to wear a full-face helmet.
Gurney is survived by his wife, Evi, and four children. Services will be private, per Gurney’s wishes. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hoag Hospital Foundation in Newport Beach, Calif. Condolences and sentiments can be sent to [email protected]
Wrong turns and sun burns dominate stage 10 of the Dakar Rally
The heat got turned up at the 2018 Dakar Rally on stage 10 with drama in the bike race taking centre stage. On a day when temperatures got up to 43 degrees Celsius the fierce competition in the two-wheel division became too much for some. Keeping his cool out in the dunes today was Matthias Walkner (AUT) as he took a huge step towards winning his first Dakar.
At the start of the day the gap between bike race leader Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) and second placed rider Kevin Benavides (ARG) stood at a mere 22 seconds. After stage 10 things are very different because new leader Walkner has an advantage of nearly 40 minutes over Joan Barreda (ESP), the new owner of the runners-up spot.
“The routes in Argentina are always difficult so I know I have to pay very close attention. Sometimes this means I slow down a little to make sure I’m getting the navigation right.” – Matthias Walkner
Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Walkner gained his overall lead thanks to some sure footed navigation on the stage between Salta and Belén. Walkner and Van Beveren were the only riders to pick the right path with frontrunners Benavides and Barreda plus KTM riders Toby Price (AUS) and Antoine Méo (FRA) all taking a wrong turn.
“We all made a mistake and we couldn’t get back on track. Eventually the helicopter came to direct us back to the start. We lost lots of time today and a chance to win, but that is the Dakar. At least we came back safe.” – Antoine Méo
It looked like the day’s events would leave Van Beveren in the overall lead with Walkner promoted to second and then a significant gap to the third place rider. Then, just 3 kilometres from the end of the stage, Van Beveren suffered a heavy crash that ended his race. Walkner went on to win the stage, take over top spot in the general classification and become a firm favourite to win his first Dakar title.
After a tricky start to today’s stage which included a crash, things turned around for Laia Sanz (ESP) with 11th place on the stage promoting her to 15th overall.
“In the second part of the stage I did all the navigation well so it was not a completely bad day after my crash.” – Laia Sanz
There was a 41st stage win of Stéphane Peterhansel’s (FRA) Dakar career in the car category as he set the fastest time for the second consecutive day.
“We chose our moments to push, always aware of trying to avoid mistakes.” – Stéphane Peterhansel
The Peugeot driver leap ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) to take second overall. Al-Attiyah’s Toyota team-mate Giniel de Villiers (ZAF) scored second on stage 10 to move closer to the overall podium.
“I think this is one of the toughest Dakars we have done in South America for sure. The days are long, we’re finishing the stage at 20 to seven and have been on the road since 6am this morning.” – Giniel de Villiers
Meanwhile, Peterhansel’s Peugeot team-mate Carlos Sainz (ESP) still leads the race by a handsome margin of 50m35s.
“At this moment everything is OK. The plan for tomorrow is to go nice and steady like we did today with no major issues.” – Carlos Sainz
There was a nice display of teamwork from Cyril Despres (FRA) who waited for fellow Team Peugeot Total member Sainz at the start of today’s stage. Despres then stayed close to Sainz just in case his help was required during the 373 kilometres of timed special stage.
“Carlos was really fast at the end so we had to let him go after following him all day. On those big, dry rivers Carlos is really, really fast.” – Cyril Despres
WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING Announces Robert Kubica as 2018 Reserve and Development Driver
Robert’s return to Formula One included several tests with Williams over the second half of last year, as well as the Abu Dhabi Pirelli tyre test at the conclusion of the 2017 season. He will have a particularly active role within the team this year, including participation in the Barcelona pre-season testing, in-season testing, and will also take part in a number of race weekend practice sessions.
Robert’s experience and knowledge will prove invaluable to our technical group in the development of FW41’s car performance. He will be able to assist the race drivers and engineers deliver better qualifying and race performance, and of course, be available to stand-in as the race driver if required. He will also support the team’s media and sponsorship support programme.
Robert Kubica said; “I’m extremely happy to be joining the Williams team as its official Reserve and Development Driver this season. I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now, so I’d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment. I have enjoyed being back in the Formula One paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign. Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I’m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car. My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula One and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said: “I am delighted to announce that Robert will be joining Williams as our Reserve and Development Driver for the 2018 season. All of us at Williams have been immensely impressed at what he has achieved, and it is a great credit to his strength of character and commitment to return to Formula One. We are excited to be continuing our relationship with Robert and look forward to working with him this coming season.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer, added: “First and foremost, we’d like to congratulate Robert on what he has achieved so far. To overcome his injuries, return to fitness, and drive a Formula One car again is a remarkable achievement, and one that few considered possible. We anticipate Robert will make a strong technical contribution to the team, using his wealth of experience in track testing, simulator work, and support to the race drivers and engineers at every race. He is a driver I have admired for many years and I am personally very happy to be working with him towards our 2018 Championship.”
DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird secured third place during today’s Formula E Marrakesh E-Prix, with team-mate Alex Lynn once again securing a points finish. The result puts Bird just four points off the top spot in the drivers’ championship with the team second overall in the teams’ standings.
Held at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, the day – which saw very changeable weather conditions throughout – saw both Bird and Lynn perform strongly in qualifying, finishing second and sixth respectively.
After maintaining their qualifying positions off the start line, Bird was challenging Sebastien Buemi for the lead in the opening laps, whilst Lynn was looking strong in sixth until he was hit from behind by Daniel Abt at Turn 1. The German driver was subsequently penalised, but Lynn – now right down the order in the 33 lap race – was able to produce a strong comeback drive to end the day ninth.
Meanwhile, Bird was unable to hold on to his P2 slot from a charging Felix Rosenqvist but came home to pick up the 11th podium finish of his Formula E career and remain a strong title contender heading into the next rounds in Chile.
Sam Bird said: “Not everything went the way we wanted it to this weekend, but third place is still a strong result for me and the team, with yet more championship points. It’s a good platform for us build on for the races ahead and we hope it continues.”
Alex Lynn said: “This weekend promised a lot but sadly we didn’t come away with all the points we deserved. We qualified well and were in the fight during the race but unfortunately it was ruined by another driver which put paid to what we should have scored.”
Team Principal Alex Tai commented: “Sam, Alex and the whole team performed fantastic today on a track that was always going to be tough on energy consumption. To have always finished in the points – together with a win and a podium – in the first three races, just shows what a great position we’re in heading into the next race in Santiago.”
DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: “It was great to see Sam on the podium today and another strong result for the team. The achievements confirm the efficiency and performance of our car, and is reward for all the hard work the team has done to prepare for this event.”
The all-electric Formula E championship is next in action on February 3 at the inaugural Santiago E-Prix. For more information on the DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team, visit: http://map.ds-virginracing.com/