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.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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