Stephane Peterhansel , Jean Paul Cottret

Peterhansel rises up to top of the cars in 2nd Dakar stage (VIDEO)

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11-time Dakar Rally champion Stephane Peterhansel (pictured) has charged from sixth after the opening stage to first in the car category after today’s Stage 2 from San Luis to San Rafael, Argentina.

While Stage 1 winner Carlos Sousa suffered a broken turbo, Peterhansel took control of the overall car standings after traveling the route in three hours, 52 minutes, five seconds. Carlos Sainz, who finished 46 seconds behind Peterhansel in Stage 2, now sits 28 seconds behind Peterhansel in the overall class standings.

“It was a mix with a lot of fast tracks, then it was [riverbeds] with a lot of rocks and the risk of getting a puncture,” Peterhansel said to the Dakar website.

“At the end there were also very nice dunes, but the navigation was easy in the dunes because there were a lot of people everywhere in the dunes. At the top of each dune, it was necessary to follow the public, so it was easy to do the navigation.”

Joan Barreda continues to hold the overall lead in the bikes after placing third in today’s stage behind winner Sam Sunderland (3:42:10) and runner-up Francisco Lopez.

Overall, Barreda has a lead of two minutes, three seconds over Lopez with Sunderland now third after his inaugural Dakar stage victory.

“It’s great. The bike was awesome,” Sunderland said. “Without all the work that goes on behind the scenes this is nothing, as you know, so I’m really grateful for the opportunity from Honda and all my sponsors. Hopefully, I can carry on in this direction and have a good overall finish.”

Marcos Patronelli grabbed the Stage 2 win in the quads, enabling him to take the top spot overall in that category. Patronelli finished ahead of Lucas Bonetto on Monday, and now has a three minute, 50 second overall lead over the Argentinian. Sunday’s winner, Ignacio Casale, finished sixth Monday and dropped back to fourth overall (+8:26 behind Patronelli).

Finally, Anton Shibalov was victorious today in the trucks with a time of four hours, 11 minutes, 37 seconds. Shibalov now sits second in the overall class standings behind Marcel Van Vliet, who finished second in Monday’s stage.

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.