Dakar Rally streaming daily on NBC Sports Live Extra

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All daily stage recaps of this year’s Dakar Rally will be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra in addition to being broadcast on NBCSN.

Today’s coverage of Stage 1 was handled by NBC Formula One essayist Sam Posey, but all other recaps will feature commentary from NBC F1/IndyCar voice Leigh Diffey.

“Many racing events claim to be the ultimate test of man and machine, but they simply do not compare to the Dakar Rally,” Diffey said in an NBC Sports Group release. “Make no mistake – racing for 24 continuous hours is tough, but competing for two weeks is an all-together different deal.

“The grueling and at times life-threatening nature of this event is awe-inspiring. The spectacular scenery sometimes softens the immense bravery and sheer gritty determination of the competitors. Dakar is an event like no other.”

For desktops, Live Extra streaming can be accessed at NBCSports.com/LiveExtra. Additionally, the NBC Sports Live Extra app is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch, and at Google Play for select Android and tablet devices.

Here’s the remainder of NBCSN’s coverage of the 2014 Dakar:

Date Coverage Time (ET)
Tue., January 7 Stage 2 – San Luis to San Rafael 5 p.m.
Wed., January 8 Stage 3 – San Rafael to San Juan 5 p.m.
Thu., January 9 Stage 4 – San Juan to Chilecito 5 p.m.
Fri., January 10 Stage 5 – Chilecito to Tucuman 5 p.m.
Sat., January 11 Stage 6 – Tucuman to Salta 5:30 p.m.
Sun., January 12 Rest Day Coverage 10 p.m.
Mon., January 13 Stage 7 – Salta to Salta/Uyuni 6:30 p.m.
Tue., January 14 Stage 8 – Salta/Uyuni to Calama 5 p.m.
Wed., January 15 Stage 9 – Calama to Iquique 5 p.m.
Thu., January 16 Stage 10 – Iquique to Antofagasta 5 p.m.
Fri., January 17 Stage 11 – Antofagasta to El Salvador 5 p.m.
Mon., January 20 Stage 12 – El Salvador to La Serena 2 a.m.
Tue., January 20 Stage 13 – La Serena to Valparaiso 2:30 a.m.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.