Barreda maintains bike lead in Stage 3 at Dakar (VIDEO)

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Honda’s Joan Barreda notched his second bike class win in three stages so far at the 2014 Dakar Rally, pushing his overall lead over defending class champ Cyril Despres to just past 13 minutes.

Barreda’s Tuesday win also maintained Honda’s perfect score so far at this year’s event. Fellow Honda man Sam Sunderland took Monday’s Stage 2 in addition to Barreda’s triumphs in Stages 1 and 3.

Today’s stage from San Rafael to San Juan, Argentina featured an modified route due to severe weather in the area over the last several days. The bikes and quads got started at the 130-kilometer point of the original route, while the cars and trucks finished their routes at 222 kilometers instead of the original 245 (those classes went off from the original start point).

Barreda set a new altitude record for the Dakar, hitting a height of 4,300 meters as the route crossed the Andes Mountains. He later said it was not easy dealing with the high altitude on his bike.

“It was very exhausting in the high altitude and I needed to stay very calm to avoid mistakes,” Barreda said. “As I was over the highest point, the navigation downhill was getting very delicate, with many changes of directions and possibly wrong ways to follow on very steep trails.

“I stopped and made sure I was choosing the right way several times. Eventually, it paid [off] to keep a cool head.”

In the cars, Nani Roma moved into the overall lead after winning the stage with a time of 2:58:52 in his Mini. As for Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz – who had been first and second in the category after Monday – they both faltered in Stage 3.

Peterhansel, in particular, suffered through six punctures en route to a 29th-place finish in the stage; Sainz wasn’t much better, finishing 18th.

Roma now holds an overall lead of 9:06 on Orlando Terranova, with Nasser Al-Attiyah in third (+10:00). Sainz fell to fourth (+12:02) and Peterhansel is now fifth (+24:08).

The quad category saw a dramatic turn of events on Tuesday. Marcos Patronelli was forced to abandon the Dakar after he had to jump off his ATV before it tumbled into a deep ravine.

Also suffering from dehydration, the defending Dakar champion is now OK – although according to the Dakar website, he was “raging a little later on at the bivouac in San Juan against the hand fate had dealt him.”

With Patronelli gone and Lucas Bonetto also having mechanical problems, that opened the door for Rafal Sonik to take the stage win and the overall lead in the quads by 6:10 over Ignacio Casale.

Andrey Karginov won Stage 3 in trucks, but Gerard de Rooy was able to solidify his overall lead with a second-place finish. de Rooy now holds the edge over fellow Dutchman Marcel Van Vliet by 18:49.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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