Getty Images

Dakar 2017: Rainouts prompt revised route, longest day yet on Day 7

Leave a comment

The 38th Dakar Rally is officially past the halfway point with Monday’s Stage 7 now in the books.

The Rally, originally scheduled for 8,782 kilometers (5,456.88 miles), concludes with Stage 12 on Saturday.

But Monday’s stage was different than what was originally planned, as weather forced the route to be changed due to rain in Bolivia. In so doing, the overall length of the race was also extended by 179 kilometers to 8,972 kilometers (5,574 miles).

Calling it an “unprecedented” change, rally organizers combined elements of what was originally scheduled for Stage 6 and 7 after Stage 5 was cut in half due to rain and Stage 6 was completely cancelled, also because of rain.

Per a statement from the ASO, organizers of the Rally, “Following the cancellation of Stage 6 on the eve of the rest day (Sunday), persistent bad weather conditions forced the race directors to change the course of Stage 7 from La Paz to Uyuni. A new course was designed and a new road book was drafted during the rest day.”

Stage 7 was originally planned for a 622-kilometer route from La Paz to the Uyuni Salt Flats.

But with the changes, the new route was lengthened to the longest section of the Rally, 801 kilometers, taking borrowing from parts of a 400 kilometer link scheduled for Stage 6, parts of the originally planned 240-kilometer route for Stage 7 and a special 161 kilometer bridge link between the two segments.

Here’s how Stage 7 played out:

The Peugeots of Stephane Peterhansel and Sebastien Loeb took the top two spots in the Cars class, with Giniel De Villiers taking third.

The ending was the same as halfway, with Peterhansel, Loeb and De Villiers 1-2-3.

Peterhansel and fellow French co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret remain in the overall lead in Cars.

As for motorcycles, American Ricky Brabec captured the stage after overall race leader Sam Sunderland inexplicably stopped 38 kilometers into the route. There has been no word yet on what prompted Sunderland to come to a halt.

Even though Sunderland stopped, he resumed on the day and ended third, and remains the overall class leader.

Click here to check out my colleague Tony DiZinno’s story on Brabec’s Stage 7 win.

In the quads, Sergey Karyakin took the top spot in the overall Rally with a top performance in Stage 7, followed by Axel Dutrie and Ignacio Casale.

And in Trucks, it was a three-way sweep by Russian drivers Dmitry Sotnikov, Rusian Akhmadeev and Igor Leonov.

However, Gerard De Rooy remains the overall leader.

Here’s a few other tidbits via social media as we prepare for Stage 8 on Tuesday, which leaves Bolivia and heads into Argentina – the route going from Uyuni to Salta:

And then there was even a special visitor for Stage 7: world windsurfing champion Robby Naish.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Toyota victorious in Bahrain on Porsche’s LMP1 swansong

Toyota Motorsport GmbH
Leave a comment

SAKHIR, Bahrain – Toyota denied Porsche a swansong victory in its final LMP1 appearance in the FIA World Endurance Championship by taking a commanding win in the 6 Hours of Bahrain on Saturday.

Porsche started from pole in the last competitive outing for the three-time Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid car, only to lose out to Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi within the first half an hour of the race.

Porsche lost one of its cars from contention for victory after an errant bollard got stuck underneath Timo Bernhard’s No. 2 entry, leaving Nick Tandy to lead its charge in the No. 1 car.

Tandy moved into the lead just past half distance after a bold strategy call from Porsche to triple-stint the Briton after a fuel-only stop, vaulting him ahead of Anthony Davidson in the No. 8 Toyota.

Tandy’s win hopes were soon dashed when he tangled with a GTE-Am backmarker at Turn 1, sustaining damage that forced Porsche into an unplanned pit stop that put the car a lap down.

With the No. 7 Toyota losing two laps following a clash with a GTE-Pro car earlier on, Davidson, Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima went unchallenged en route to the car’s fifth victory of the season.

Porsche rounded out the podium with its cars, with the No. 2 leading home the No. 1, leaving Toyota’s No. 7 car to settle for P4 at the checkered flag.

Vaillante Rebellion clinched the title in LMP2 after a stunning fightback led by Bruno Senna, with the Brazilian securing his maiden motorsport championship win in the process.

GTE-Pro saw AF Corse complete a hat-trick of titles in 2017, with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi wining the class’ first world championship recognized by the FIA, while Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda sewed up the GTE-Am title.