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.

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.