Ricciardo cautiously confident for 2013

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They have been one of the surprise packages during the final Formula One test in Barcelona. Following a disappointing 2012 season, Scuderia Toro Rosso appear to be on the verge of something special, and Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is optimistic of delivering in 2013.

“Where we are is in the mix somewhere. Probably not at the very point end at the moment but to be honest we don’t necessarily expect to be there. Obviously it’s our target but the realistic target is to be amongst the midfield pack that we sort of fell behind last year.

“I think we’re in there – at which end I’m still not sure.”

During the interview with reporters in Barcelona, Ricciardo identified his rivals for the season ahead as being Williams, Force India and Sauber: the three teams who finished directly ahead of Toro Rosso in 2012.

“In the group we’re fighting it’s the Williams, the Sauber and the Force India. I’m really not sure who is the strongest out of those at the moment. It’s so hard with testing. I think we just have to wait until racing and then all the nonsense will stop and we will really know.”

Despite the good start, Ricciardo was quick to make clear that work still needed to be done for the team to be ready for the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks time.

“There have been some positives, some things I like on the new car, but also finding it in its window and working ideally where we want it to work, I still think this is taking a bit of time and we still need to understand it a little bit more.

“We haven’t done any race simulations yet so we’re not sure how we are on long runs, with fuel tanks in the car.”

Although it is hard to deduce much from testing, Toro Rosso have certainly made a big step forward from 2012, and they will be keen on meeting their target of sixth in the 2013 constructors’ championship.

Video highlights from Sunday’s Dakar Rally Stage 8: Bikes, Cars, Quads, Trucks

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Sunday’s Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally brought the race into the final country it will compete in, Argentina.

Monday’s Stage 9 was cancelled after bad weather made course conditions impassible for racing. Stage 10 picks up Tuesday morning. The overall Rally ends Saturday.

Here’s some of Sunday’s key video highlights:

BIKES

Antoine Meo wins Stage 8.

QUADS 

Simon Vitse wins Stage 8.

CARS

Stephane Peterhansel wins Stage 8.

TRUCKS

Dmitry Sotnikov wins Stage 8.