Dakar glory up in the air as convoy arrives in La Paz for Rest Day

clockwise) Antoine Méo, Carlos Sainz, Eduard Nikolaev and Ignacio Casale © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

When you reach for glory at the Dakar Rally you have to stretch up high, 4,700 metres above sea level to be precise. As the race left Peru and transferred to Bolivia’s Altiplano we witnessed the first day of extreme altitude. While some competitors took the chance to soar up the general rankings others dropped like stones as the harsh conditions got the better of them.

Standing up to the altitude in the bike race was Antoine Méo (FRA) who recorded his first stage win of this Dakar. Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider Méo is back for his second attempt at the Dakar after a distinguished Enduro career. Today’s stage win has pushed the French rider up to 7th overall, just over 10 minutes behind new race leader Kevin Benavides (ARG).

“I thought to myself ‘now is my time to make the difference’ so I really pushed. I knew there was a risk that I could crash but this was one of those times when everything went well.” – Antoine Méo

Also putting in strong rides on the path to La Paz were Méo’s team-mates Toby Price (AUS) and Matthias Walkner (AUT). Former Dakar winner Price was third fastest on the stage to move to 6th overall while Walkner remains third overall and under three minutes behind Benavides.

“We know from previous years how much things can change in Bolivia and also we still have two marathon stages to ride. There are still some tricky days to come that’s for sure.” – Matthias Walkner

Fellow KTM rider Laia Sanz (ESP) is staying on course for her pre-race target with 18th place on the stage lifting her to 16th overall.

“I’m happy because I’m improving my position in the overall classification and this is what I need to do until the end.” – Laia Sanz

While today’s stage from Arequipa to La Paz was shortened for the bikes there were no such concessions made for the cars as they raced the entire 313km timed special. Carlos Sainz (ESP) won the stage with an exhibition of speed, but could not make too much of a dent in the overall lead of Peugeot team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) which now stands at 27m10s over the Spaniard.

“There is still a lot of racing left, with stages that are 400 and 500 kilometres long, as well as the marathon stage.” – Carlos Sainz

Race leader Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) opened the stage and put in yet another extremely professional performance to clock his category’s second quickest time.

“The main problem is altitude for the driver and for the engine. We lost a lot of power and we lost concentration – you know, the brain also works in slow motion, so it was a little bit complicated.”– Stéphane Peterhansel

The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi of Cyril Despres (FRA) claimed the car class’s fifth fastest time. Meanwhile, Peterhansel was actually able to increase his advantage over chasing Toyota Gazoo Racing SA pair Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and Giniel De Villiers (ZAF).

“It’s always good to have variation: some dunes, some stages like this with really fast rally roads, really very enjoyable to drive, but the dunes are also a different challenge and that’s also nice.” – Giniel De Villiers

There was no podium place for Ignacio Casale (CHI) in the quad contest on stage six but he was still upbeat in the La Paz bivouac. Despite finishing 4th on the stage the 2014 Dakar quad champion was still able to increase his overall lead to 41m30s from his nearest rival Alexis Hernandez (PER).

In the truck race it was a good day for Team Kamaz Master as race leader Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) saw his team-mates Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) and Anton Shibalov (RUS) all join him in the Top 15 on stage six.

Tomorrow brings with it a much needed Rest Day for the competitors as their vehicles are handed over to the mechanics for a comprehensive tune up. Expect battle plans for the second week to be drawn up in La Paz by those still in with a shot at Dakar glory.

The 40th edition of the Dakar Rally takes place from January 6 until January 20. Watch daily updates of all the action from South America at www.RedBull.com/Dakar.


The sands of time wait for none on stage four of 2018 Dakar Rally

clockwise) Sébastien Loeb, Sam Sunderland, Ignacio Casale and Eduard Nikolaev © Marcelo Maragni/Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Today’s Dakar Rally action started on the beach, but this was no relaxed day out for the brave competitors left in the race. As stage four left Peru’s Pacific Ocean shoreline it delved deep into the desert for a section of sand dunes totalling 100km. It was in this extreme terrain that many of the race’s leading contenders lost their shot at glory.

The cars were waved off from the beach in groups of four, with a 19km straight to test the nerve of each of the crews. Sébastien Loeb (FRA) went off in the second wave and was soon gaining on the opening foursome that included his Peugeot team-mates Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Cyril Despres (FRA) and Carlos Sainz (ESP) as well as the Toyota of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT).

“We made the best time and that’s what we had to do, so at the moment it’s going well.” – Sébastien Loeb

Loeb kept pushing through 330km of timed special and won the stage with the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxis of Sainz and Peterhansel second and third respectively. However, the shine was taken off Team Peugeot Total’s 1-2-3 result by the problems suffered by their fourth driver Despres. Despres suffered a long stoppage at the 180km point in stage due to a broken rear wheel and his chances of repeating last year’s podium finish now look very slim.

“We’ve three cars that have come through the stage OK, but I’m really disappointed for Cyril.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

There were problems also on the stage for Al-Attiyah and his Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team-mate Giniel De Villiers (ZAF). Both drivers endured a tough day and both eventually finished around an hour behind Loeb.

“We’re here now at the finish and we’ll see what we can do. We need to push at maximum pace now.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

With each passing stage the world’s toughest rally is proving its hard earned reputation as no respecter of rank or reputation. Watch Bryce Menzies (USA) crash out on stage two and get his reaction right here



The second stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally brought with it some of the biggest challenges of the year and dealt knockout blows to a few high-profile contestants. Taking each one of the Peruvian dunes in their stride were defending car race champions Team Peugeot Total as they locked out the stage two podium.

Opening the course today was the Toyota Hilux of Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) who were relying on their sand expertise to grow an even bigger gap at the front of the race. However, a bout of ‘sand dune sickness’ for Baumel hampered the charge and this morning’s leading duo ended the day falling back in the overall standings.

“The reason we lose a lot of time is because Mathieu got sick from the beginning and I had to take care about him.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah

The big winners in the car category on stage two turned out to be defending champions Team Peugeot Total who now have Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) leading the race after they clocked today’s fastest time.

“This was a complicated stage with very high dunes, very hostile terrain. If you made mistakes out there you could lose a lot of time.” – Cyril Despres

The Peugeot 3008DKR Maxis of Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean Paul Cottret (FRA) and Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) took the day’s remaining podium spots with the team’s fourth crew of Carlos Sainz (ESP) /Lucas Cruz (ESP) taking sixth on the stage despite Cruz also being sick.

“It was a real Dakar special, where you have to keep everything under control. The race starts now.” – Stéphane Peterhansel

Al-Attiyah may now be over 12 minutes behind new race leader Despres, but he doesn’t have to look too far around the bivouac to see how much worse his day could have been. Bryce Menzies (USA) and co-driver Pete Mortensen (USA) had made an encouraging start to their Dakar debut with a Top 5 placing on the opening stage. This good work counted for nothing though when the American pair’s MINI rolled out of the race just six kilometres into today’s special stage.

“When we hit the bump it just unloaded the rear and it went to the front bumper, we flipped six or seven times. It was not what I wanted to do at my first Dakar and I’m feeling really bad for the whole team.” – Bryce Menzies

Staying closest to the Peugeots were former Dakar champions Giniel De Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (GER) who drove their Hilux to the stage’s fourth fastest time.

“We had three places where we had to turn around and look for the waypoint. It was really tricky.”– Giniel de Villiers


Alonso Turns First Daytona Laps As Roar Before The Rolex 24 Gets Under Way

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso turned his first laps at Daytona International Speedway on Friday during the opening day of the three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test.

And while the Spaniard has driven on a variety of road racing circuits throughout his storied career, it’s safe to say he hadn’t previously experienced anything like the unique, 3.56-mile Daytona course.

“I did, unfortunately, only three laps this morning, but enough to have a feeling in the car and on the Speedway as well,” said Alonso regarding his maiden DIS laps aboard the No. 23 United Autosports Ligier LM P2 car. “The coolness and the high banking were special. You feel the compression in the body and you feel the visibility change, because when you are in, let’s say, the normal part of the circuit, you have a view in the car that is a little bit longer ahead.

“When you are in the corner with the banking, you see the next 200 meters of the track and only that. I was trying to look where the track was going. It was good fun and a fast feeling.”

While already an established worldwide racing superstar with his F1 titles, Alonso’s popularity among many U.S. race fans soared last May when he contended for the win in his first Indianapolis 500 before a mechanical issue removed him from contention. He was competitive throughout the month of May at Indy and was focused on the singular goal of winning the race, even as he learned a new racing format. He’s taking the same approach at Daytona.

“It’s more or less the same goal as Indianapolis, first of all, to try to learn different driving techniques,” Alonso said. “I’m trying to learn from the specialists of endurance races and try to be a better driver when the 24 hours finish. That’s the first aim. It’s the first time for me in an endurance race, first time in a Prototype car, first time driving at night, the first time driving with GT around, so many new things will come step-by-step.”



Swot up on timings for this weekend’s practice sessions

For many of us, January is a month of post-Christmas blues. It’s when we (half-heartedly) resolve to refrain from excess, and – amid the grey mornings and rainy days – determine some kind of shape and form for ourselves over the long year ahead.

By most accounts, January isn’t a month in which to go racing.

Not, unless, you’re taking part in the Daytona 24 Hours, the first ‘big’ international road racing event of the year.

For more than 50 years, the classic Florida enduro has kickstarted the US racing calendar – Bruce McLaren himself has contested the event – and the on-track action begins this weekend, with a three-day test ahead of the big race, on January 27 – 28.

Dubbed the ‘ROAR’, it’s a final opportunity for teams and drivers to initiate themselves with the demanding Daytona International Speedway, a banked tai-oval which uses an additional infield section for the 24 Hours.

In 2018, McLaren’s interest in the race will be more acute than ever: both Fernando Alonso and test and reserve driver Lando Norris are racing in the 24, driving alongside Phil Hanson in a United Autosport Ligier JS P217.

While both McLaren drivers have tested the United car independently, this weekend will be their first opportunity to run together, and their first experience of Daytona’s steep banking.

“I’ve always wanted to challenge myself in other categories of motorsport,” said Fernando, who’ll tick a second grandee US motor race off his bucket-list in less than 12 months when he competes at Daytona. “This is what you need to do to become a better driver. Going out of my comfort zone by taking part in such an iconic race is just amazing.

“At the test we had in Spain in November, everyone made me feel extremely welcome and part of the family. I’m happy to be spending more time with the team and my team-mates at the ROAR. In the last couple of months, I’ve been spending time watching several Daytona 24 Hours, which made me even keener to go out there and try myself.”

Lando has made no secret of his desire to take the fight to his team-mates, even if he’ll be working with them rather than against them.

“I’m really looking forward to being back in a car after a bit of a break,” he said. “It’ll be my first ever time in America, so it’ll be a new experience for me. It will be good to prepare properly with United and my team-mates for the 24-hour race and really get to grips with the car and the track. We can start putting everything together as one team so we can try and maximise the test days we have going into Daytona.”

There are two practice sessions during the day on Friday, with a further three on Saturday, including one which runs until 8pm in the evening, giving drivers the opportunity to sample driving under floodlights. There are two practice sessions on Sunday, with a short lunchtime qualifying session for each category to determine the position of each team’s pit-box, which plays a strategic advantage during such a long race.

The event will be streamed live via IMSA.com, IMSA’s Mobile App and RadioLeMans.com.


Nitro Revival to be Held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca During Spring Classic May 18-20

Gathering of vintage drag cars to highlight second day of Spring Classic event

MONTEREY, Calif., January 2, 2018 — The distinct cackle of Nitro Revival will be coming to the Monterey Peninsula during the second annual Spring Classic on May 18-20. The gathering of vintage and restored nitromethane-powered drag cars and legendary drag racing personalities will take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the iconic facility’s vintage racing event with feature activity occurring on Saturday, May 19. The Spring Classic celebrates motorsports eras from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

Nitro Revival brings the sights and sounds of the early days of front-engine Top Fuel dragsters and other organized hot rod racing back to life with a large lineup of fully restored machines. It serves as a reunion for racers from that era and gives fans the experience of a drag racing museum come to life. Fuelers will do push starts with period-correct push start vehicles and burnouts. There will also be a large turnout of classic street rods and hot rods. The Saturday event will close with a “Line of Fire” mass fire-up that will have the cackling sounds of vintage drag cars echoing through the rolling hills of the scenic Monterey Peninsula.

“Nitro Revival is a unique car show with unique vehicles that celebrate drag racing,” said Steve Gibbs, Nitro Revival producer. “Laguna Seca is an iconic place with a facility that can accommodate the growth of Nitro Revival, and we are able to add a historical drag race element to their event. There is a lot of drag racing history on the Central Coast and Bay Area. Monterey also has a lot to offer as a destination.”

Nitro Revival will enhance the paddock experience of the three-day vintage race held May 18-20. The 11 run groups of approximately 200 historically-correct sports and race cars that will race on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course during the Spring Classic range from 1966-74 Can-Am to 1974-94 Stock Cars to Historic Motorcycle exhibitions.

“Everyone who has an interest in motorsports, cars and moving entertainment will enjoy their experience at the Spring Classic that features Nitro Revival,” added Gill Campbell, senior vice president of events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “There will be something to enjoy for all ages, from sports and Formula One race cars to historic motorcycles to the high-powered drag racers; it will be a sensory overload.”

For tickets and information about the Spring Classic, visit HERE or call 831-242-8201.

For more information about Nitro Revival, visit HERE or send an email.

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