Whitmarsh concerned about McLaren pace

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Following a highly disappointing showing in both Friday practice sessions, Martin Whitmarsh has acknowledged that McLaren are struggling to match the pace of their rivals.

“I think we should be worried about the pace. It is a tough day in the office for everyone at the moment, we are lacking grip and there is a lot of head scratching at the moment, but certainly we are lacking pace.”

Free Practice 2 saw three-time Melbourne winner Jenson Button finish down in eleventh, with teammate Sergio Perez even further back in thirteenth. Button has made public that McLaren are focusing on developing their car throughout the season, but it appears the move has caused such struggles this weekend.

“I think we are still learning and there is a lot we still need to learn about this car,” said Whitmarsh. “But we have struggled frankly to quite understand how it is performing – understanding the tires and the car.”

The McLaren team principal did make clear that the team would be working hard to rectify the situation in time for the race on Sunday.

“As of today we are still undoubtedly struggling and that is something we need to gather good information on and work through it this weekend.”

With the top four teams separated by less than one second, McLaren will be concerned about the 2.3 second gap that was apparent in FP2. Button and Perez will be aiming to qualify in the top ten on Saturday, and if they can get to grips with the tires in time for the race a strong result may be possible.

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.