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40 days until 40th Dakar Rally, coming in January 2018 to NBCSN

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Today marks 40 days until the 40th Dakar Rally, a staple of the traditional racing offseason but a hallmark of racing in January. The 2018 Dakar, which runs from January 6-20, will air on NBCSN. Specific coverage details and air times will follow at a later date.

This year’s rally covers Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, starting in Peru’s capital of Lima, working its way to La Paz, Bolivia for a rest day January 12, and will finish in Córdoba, Argentina.

Defending champions in the two primary categories are Stephane Peterhansel (cars) and Sam Sunderland (bikes), with Eduard Nikolaev (trucks), Sergey Karyakin (quads) and Leandro Torres (UTVs) having also won their classes.

Dakar’s website hosts a number of unique videos to showcase the history of the event over the 39 previous runnings, a handful of which will be posted on NBCSports.com over the coming weeks.

One such example is below from 1982, as brothers Claude and Bernard Marreau won overall in their Renault 20.

After the first three runnings in 1979, 1980 and 1981 that were just listed as Paris-Dakar Rallys, the 1982 Dakar was Paris-Algiers-Dakar.

The rally has been held annually since 1979, with the exception of 2008. In 2009, the rally took part outside of Europe and Africa for the first time, and ran in South America.

Peterhansel is going for his third consecutive overall win in cars. The Dakar legend has 13 wins, split six in motorcycles and seven in cars.

Peterhansel is part of the Peugeot runners in cars this year. Carlos Sainz, Sebastien Loeb and Cyril Despres are the other key Peugeot drivers, joined by Dakar rookie Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi.

Nasser Al-Attiyah, the 2015 Dakar winner, leads Toyota’s charge with Giniel De Villiers and Bernhard Ten Brinke among others.

American Bryce Menzies, who withdrew from last year’s Dakar due to injury, is set to run this year’s for MINI. Other MINI drivers of note include Nani Roma, Mikko Hirvonen and Orlando Terranova.

Ford has Martin Prokop leading its charge.

Sunderland leads the bike contingent for KTM along with fellow riders Matthias Walkner, Gerard Farres Guell, Toby Price and Stefan Svitko.

Adrien Van Beveren is one of Yamaha’s top riders along with Franco Caimi.

American Ricky Brabec won his first Dakar stage last year and is one of Honda’s top riders, and also won the Sonora Rally last spring. Other Honda riders to watch include Joan Barreda, Paulo Goncalves and Michael Metge.

Husqvarna, Sherco TVS and Gasgas are other motorcycles in the field of note.

The full competitors list is here.

The route for this year’s rally is here.

An archive of last year’s videos is linked here.  The final rally recap is linked here.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

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