Ricky Brabec (pictured in 2016). Photo: Getty Images

Dakar 2017: Brabec second in bikes; Al-Attiyah leads overall on day 1

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American rider Ricky Brabec has come third in the opening stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally in the bike category, and was later promoted to second following a penalty for the stage winner. Meanwhile overall and in cars, two-time overall winner Nasser Al-Attiyah holds the top spot.

Coverage of today’s opening stage will air on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Brabec, the 25-year-old who rides the No. 9 CRF 450 Rally Honda for the Monster Energy Honda Team, is regarded as the top American with a chance to star in this year’s Dakar, especially following the lingering injuries that have sidelined Red Bull’s Bryce Menzies, who was scheduled to compete in the car class.

French rider Xavier de Soultrait, who is in the No. 23 WR 450 F Yamaha for Viltais Racing Team HFP, took the opening stage win over Spaniard Juan Pedrero Garcia (No. 12 RTR 450 Sherco TVS, Sherco TVS Rally Factory) by two seconds. Brabec was third, 14 seconds back.

However, following the conclusion of the stage, Soultrait was docked nine positions for a speeding violation. That promotes Pedrero to the stage win and Brabec up to second.

Toby Price, who won the bike category at Dakar last year, sits one minute and 25 seconds in arrears.

Overall, Al-Attiyah has taken the lead with a 24-second stage win over Xavier Pons, and 29-seconds over Nani Roma. The Qatari driver won overall in 2011 and 2015, and this year shares the No. 301 Hilux Toyota for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA with co-driver Matthieu Baumel. Al-Attiyah survived a smoke scare to make it to the stage finish.

Roma is in the No. 305 Toyota, while Pons is in the No. 311 Ranger Ford for DMAS South Racing.

Of note, 2016 Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel sits a minute, 34 seconds in arrears, with Carlos Sainz 33 seconds back, Sebastien Loeb 55 seconds back, Mikko Hirvonen one minute and 20 seconds back, and 24 Hours of Le Mans/FIA World Endurance Champion Romain Dumas one minute and 44 seconds back.

The other stage one class winners were Martin Kolomy (Trucks, No. 508 Phoenix Tatra, Tatra Buggyra Racing), Tim Coronel (UTV, No. 347 Swift GL Suzuki, Maxxis Dakar Team Powered by Super B) and Marcelo Medeiros (Quads, No. 271 YFM700R Yamaha, Taguatur Racing Team).

Here was the stage map.

Pippa Mann returns to Dale Coyne Racing for seventh Indianapolis 500 bid

Photo courtesy Dale Coyne Racing
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Pippa Mann announced Tuesday that she plans to drive in her seventh Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

The native of Ipswich, England will once again return to race for Dale Coyne Racing, with new sponsorship by Donate Life Indiana.

She had previously been sponsored the last four years in the 500 by the Susan G. Komen organization. She’ll continue to carry logos of that organization on the front wing of her car in the 500, Mann said.

Mann, 34, has raced six times in the 500, with a best finish being 17th in last year’s race.

Mann will fill out the four-car Dale Coyne Racing field for the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. She’ll be teammates with Sebastien Bourdais (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda in a partnership with Vasser-Sullivan), Pietro Fittipaldi (No. 19 The Paysafe Car Honda) and Conor Daly (No. 17 U.S. Air Force Honda in a partnership with Thom Burns Racing).

Mann will make her first practice laps for this year’s 500 on Tuesday, May 15. Qualifying is May 19-20.

Mann’s No. 63 Honda will have a significantly different look than in the last few years. Instead of pink, her car will feature a silvery blue and light green paint scheme wrapped around a Donate Life Indiana logo.

β€œI am honored to have been asked to drive the Donate Life car this May and to partner with Donate Life Indiana as an ambassador to raise awareness on our mission to help reach even more Hoosiers through our education efforts,” Mann said in a media release. β€œThis is obviously a campaign with a pretty deep personal meaning for me, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to join the racers carrying this cause forward.

β€œI also want to thank Dale and Gail Coyne for once again giving me this opportunity to pilot one of their entries this May. This will be my sixth year with Dale Coyne Racing and I’m truly grateful that they allow me to do this every year.”

Mann will also serve as a spokesperson for the organization and to raise awareness for youth education initiatives in Indiana, most notably organ, tissue and eye donor registration.

In addition to her driving duties in the 102nd running of the 500, Mann will also visit schools across the Hoosier State to speak about the importance of organ donation and transplantation.

β€œOur education team is committed to partnering with Pippa and students and teachers across the state to bring the message of organ donation and transplantation to as many students as possible,” said Steve Johnson, board chairman for Donate Life Indiana.

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