Photo courtesy of IMSA

Bell, Sweedler return ‘home’ to Scuderia Corsa for NAEC effort

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Longtime co-drivers Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, who won the 2015 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class championship with Scuderia Corsa, will return to Giacomo Mattioli’s team for another time in IMSA competition. Bell is an analyst for NBCSN’s coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Bell and Sweedler lead the team’s Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup effort for the four endurance races on the calendar, and will share their No. 64 Ferrari 488 GT3 with Frankie Montecalvo for all of those four and Sam Bird for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Bell, Sweedler and Montecalvo shared an Audi R8 LMS with Alex Job Racing this season in the endurance races.

Bell and Sweedler have also enjoyed great success with Scuderia Corsa racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the last three years. They won the GTE-Am class co-driving with Jeff Segal in 2016, and have been on the podium in both 2015 and 2017 co-driving with Segal and Cooper MacNeil, respectively.

The team’s primary No. 63 car will see MacNeil and Alessandro Balzan co-driving for the full season, with Gunnar Jeannette third driver and Segal the fourth driver for Daytona. The No. 63 car has won three straight GTD championships, with Bell and Sweedler in 2015 and then Balzan and Christina Nielsen each of the last two.

“The return of Townsend and Bill to our organization is a testament to the quality of our relationship, and the addition of Frankie Montecalvo should be a great contribution,” stated Mattioli. “Combined with Sam Bird for Daytona and all of our resources, we’re very confident in a great showing and fighting for the best results possible.”

Bell said, “It almost goes without saying that Scuderia Corsa is one of the best teams in the business. Our IMSA championship, our Le Mans victory, are all directly attributed to their program, and we hope to repeat the same success this year. It’s the most competitive era in the history of IMSA, but we’re confident we can be right in the mix.”

Sweedler added, “I’m thrilled to be back with Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari, and my teammates from last year for the NAEC championship. We have had great success over the years with Giacomo and I look forward to renewing our combined competitive drive and spirit to win again. Scuderia Corsa has become a world class team and I am honored to be back. Forza Ferrari 2018!”

Dakar Rally Stage 13: Carlos Sainz has second overall victory in sight

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Editor’s note: Check out expanded video highlights of Stage 13 Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Carlos Sainz is nearing his second Dakar Rally victory while Nasser Al-Attiyah strengthened his bid for second by winning Friday’s 13th stage of the endurance race.

Sainz finished sixth in his Team Peugeot ride and holds a lead of 46:18 over Al-Attiyah’s Toyota.

“I tried to play it safe, even if there were plenty of tricky parts,” said Sainz, who won the Dakar Rally in 2010 but had failed to finish the past five races because of mechanical problems. “Since the start, there has been a lot of drama in this race and it’s not over until we’ve crossed the finishing line. It’s not a crazy Dakar, but it’s very difficult. I hope everything will go OK (Saturday).”

Defending race winner Stephane Peterhansel is in fourth overall, trailing by 1:28:08 after crashing and finishing 20th in the penultimate stage. The Frenchman has a record 13 overall wins in the Dakar but is unlikely to earn another despite rebounding well from a crash in the seventh stage that had knocked him from the overall lead.

In other divisions, Eduard Nikolaev (trucks), Matthias Walkner (motorcycles), Ignacio Casale (Quads) and Reinaldo Varela (SxS UTV) are on the cusp of capturing overall wins entering the final stage.

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STAGE 13 RESULTS, CARS

  1. Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toyota, 5:02:22
  2. Argentina’s Lucio ALvarez, Toyota, 5:13:38
  3. South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, Toyota: 5:15:28
  4. Poland’s Jakub Przygonski, X-Raid, 5:17:29
  5. Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen, X-Raid, 5:21:46

OVERALL 

  1. Spain’s Carlos Sainz
  2. Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, 46:18 behind
  3. South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, 1:20:00 behind
  4. France’s Stephane Peterhansel, 1:28:08 behind
  5. Poland’s Jakub Przygonski, 2:46:32 behind

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TRUCKS

  1. Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev, Kamaz, 5:59:02
  2. Russia’s Airat Mardeev, 5:59:52
  3. Czech Republic’s Martin Kolomy, Tatra, 6:05:08
  4. Belarus’s Siarhei Vlazovich, 6:26:47
  5. Czech Republic’s Dmitry Sotnikov, 6:31:56

OVERALL 

  1. Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev
  2. Belarus’s Siarhei Vlazovich, 3:53:59 behind
  3. Russia’s Airat Mardeev, 5:21:05
  4. Czech Republic’s Martin Kolomy, 9:01:18
  5. Czech Republic’s Dmitry Sotnikov, 10:04:29

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MOTORCYCLES

  1. Australia’s Toby Price, KTM, 4:48:33
  2. Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, Honda, 4:50:36
  3. France’s Antoine Meo, KTM, 4:51:17
  4. Austria’s Matthias Walkner, KTM, 5:00:05
  5. Spain’s Juan Pedrero Garcia, 5:03:45

AMERICAN RIDERS

15th: Mark Samuels (Honda), 5:19:40

18th: Shane Esposito (KTM), 5:27:14

37th: Andrew Short (Husqvarna), 5:58:14

68th: Bill Conger (Husqvarna), 7:16:00

OVERALL 

  1. Austria’s Matthias Walkner
  2. Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, 22:31 behind
  3. Australia’s Toby Price, 27:45
  4. France’s Antoine Meo, 50:17
  5. Spain’s Gerard Farres, 1:01:19

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QUADS

  1. Argentina’s Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, 5:55:16
  2. Paraguay’s Nelson Augusto Sanabria Galeano, 5:58:34
  3. Chile’s Ignacio Casale, 5:59:19
  4. Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, 6:02:22
  5. Brazil’s Marcelo Medeiros, 6:02:23

OVERALL

  1. Chile’s Ignacio Casale
  2. Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, 1:37:16 behind
  3. Argentina’s Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, 2:05:12
  4. Brazil’s Marcelo Medeiros, 4:25:26
  5. Peru’s Alexis Hernandez, 4:34:37

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SxS UTV

  1. France’s Patricie Garrouste, Polaris, 6:29:40
  2. Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela, Can-Am, 6:39:39
  3. France’s Claude Fournier, Polaris, 7:33:17
  4. Spain’s Jose Pena Campos, Polaris, 7:41:200

OVERALL 

  1. Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela
  2. France’s Patricie Garroueste, 53:28 behind
  3. France’s Claude Fournier, 10:02:12
  4. Spain’s Jose Pena Campos, 10:06:01

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SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE

Champions in all five classes will be crowned Saturday after the 14th and final stage concludes in Cordoba, Argentina.

MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, list of all competitors.

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