Marc Coma

Dakar: Coma and Roma beat the heat in Stage 5 (VIDEO, UPDATED)

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Extremely hot temperatures curtailed Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally for the bikes and quads, but that proved especially beneficial for the new leader in the former category, Marc Coma.

Coma (pictured) was leading the stage after the first section of the run from Chilecito to Tucuman, Argentina. But shortly into the second section, he suffered a fuel leak on his KTM.

With the help of his water carrier, Jorge Viladoms, he was able to fix the problem. Then, shortly after that, Dakar officials opted to cancel the second part of the stage and that gave Coma the win.

The stage win propelled Coma into the overall lead in bikes as well, as previous leader Joan Barreda suffered from fuel system and navigational problems en route to a 13th place finish. Barreda slipped just one spot to second in the overall, but now is 41:10 behind Coma.

“It was another tough day,” Coma said. “It was really hot out there. It’s also difficult in terms of navigation as well because of the rain last week which makes it difficult to see anything. To get to the end of the stage, I rode for 10 [kilometers] lost in a river bed.

“In general, it’s tough for everyone. For the race lead, you can lose lots of time at any moment. When you open the way, it’s a bit like playing Russian roulette.”

As for the quads, the top three competitors overall – Sergio Lafuente, Ignacio Casale, and Rafal Sonik – all sustained one hour penalties. With that taken into account, Lafuente is now listed as the overall leader by 16:52 over Casale after his stage win today. Sonik lies in third, 23:12 back of Lafuente.

In the cars, Nani Roma regained the overall lead today with a stage win. Roma finished 4:20 ahead of Giniel de Villiers. American driver Robby Gordon appeared to pull off a third-place finish at 20:12 behind, but was later penalized for missing a waypoint on the course and fell to 19th in the stage.

Stage 4 winner Carlos Sainz followed up with a tough 26th-place result today after several navigational errors and an electrical problem on his SMG buggy.

With a one hour penalty compounding matters, Sainz fell from first all the way to eighth in the overall standings. Nasser Al-Attiyah had elevated to second there behind leader Roma but he too incurred a penalty and is now fifth; as a result, Orlando Terranova is now closest to Roma at 31:46 off the pace.

Dmitry Sotnikov won in the trucks to make a 1-2 finish for the Kamaz team, as teammate Andrey Karginov finished second. But those two, along with everyone else, are still chasing Gerard de Rooy in the category. He sits 32 minutes ahead of Karginov in the overall, with Eduard Nikolaev in third.

Lotus prepared for close fight with Force India for P5

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 26:  Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 26, 2015 in Suzuka.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Lotus technical director Nick Chester believes that the team faces a close fight with Force India for fifth place in the constructors’ championship that will rage on until the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Lotus currently ranks sixth in the teams’ standings, 17 points behind Force India in fifth with five races remaining this year.

Finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship would not only secure some much-needed additional prize money for Lotus, but it would also secure it a place on the F1 Strategy Group for 2016 when it is poised to become Renault F1 Team.

Reflecting on last weekend’s race in Japan, Chester said he was pleased with the double-points finished achieved by Lotus drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, and believes that the team can catch up in the coming weeks if Force India hits trouble.

“[Japan] was very rewarding and also very important for us in our fight for fifth place in the constructors’ championship,” Chester said. “We closed up a little bit more on Force India and of course there is a bit more to do.

“They had a good race in Monza when both our cars got knocked out but effectively we’re one good race away where they have a bad one and we can catch up. It will be tight all the way until the end of the season.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Chester spoke of the challenge posed to both the teams and the drivers by the tight and twisting circuit around the site of the old winter Olympic park.

“We know that the surface is very smooth and last year we struggled generating temperature with the tires, partly through the smooth surface and partly through what was a conservative tire allocation,” Chester said.

“Pirelli’s softer allocation for this year along with the more weathered track surface and our better knowledge of the circuit should mean we fare far better in this regard. In terms of its needs, we know that it’s a track that is quite power and traction-sensitive.

“The layout presents a lot of slow speed corners and long straights. Braking down into turn 13 is very severe and you come out of the kink before you brake so it is a difficult corner to get right. Overall, the whole track is quite technical, so it certainly a challenging one for the drivers.”

Status targets 2016 GP2 title after GP3 exit

2015 GP2 Series Round 8.
Autodromo di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 6 September 2015.
Marlon Stockinger (PHL, Status Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C2088
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Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.

Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.

However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.

Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.

This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.

“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.

“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.

“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.

“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”

Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.