Getty Images

Dakar Rally Stage 12: Leads close in Cars and Trucks; just 2 stages remain

Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Check out expanded video highlights of Stage 12 Friday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

After playing offense through much of the first 11 stages (not including the washed-out Stage 9 on Monday), as contenders move closer to the conclusion of the 40th Dakar Rally, there’s a definite move to playing defense.

A perfect example of that is Spain’s Carlos Sainz in the Cars class. During Thursday’s Stage 12, Sainz was in a defensive mode to preserve his lead in the overall standings.

But while Sainz was playing defense, France’s Stephane Peterhansel could do nothing but be on the offensive, cutting nearly 16 minutes off Sainz’ overall lead.

While Sainz still leads by 45 minutes, anything can happen in the remaining two stages on Friday and Saturday. One thing is certain: Sainz has learned quite a few lessons from his previous five appearances in the Rally, never reaching it to the finish line.

The main thing is not only defense, but also patience, as he readily put on display Thursday.

In the final two stages, Sainz will once again have to play defense to maintain his overall lead, but his four closest challengers – Peterhansel, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (who won Thursday’s stage, his third of this year’s Rally), the Netherlands’ Bernhard ten Brinke and South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers – will be going all-out.

The winner of the last two Rallys, Peterhansel, however, has seemingly all but conceded the overall win in the class to Sainz.

“It’s finished now,” he said. “For sure, we will try to secure second place, so we controlled the gap with Nasser.

“I’m crossing my fingers for (second) but also for Carlos. After the big damage to the car that we got on the marathon stage (seven), we lost approximately one hour and forty-five minutes, so coming back into second place is OK.”

Also of note, Thursday’s stage was cancelled for motorcycles and quads due to weather conditions.

Here’s the Stage 12 results, as well as updated overall rankings:

  1. Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toyota, 5:49:57
  2. France’s Stephane Peterhansel, Peugeot, 5:52:00
  3. South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, Toyota: 5:54:30
  4. Argentina’s Orlando Terranova, Mini, 5:55:53
  5. The Netherlands’ Bernhard ten Brinke, Toyota, 5:57:50

OVERALL 

  1. Spain’s Carlos Sainz
  2. France’s Stephane Peterhansel, 44:41 behind
  3. Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, 1:05:55 behind
  4. The Netherlands’ Bernhard ten Brinke, 1:17:21 behind
  5. South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, 1:26:31 behind

**************************

TRUCKS

Ton van Genugten won his second stage of this year’s Rally on Thursday, followed by the Czech Republic’s Martin Kolomy and Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev.

But the biggest news is how Argentina’s Federico Villagra closed to within one second of overall leader Nikolaev. It’s a guarantee the last two stages will be shootouts between the two competitors.

Here’s the Stage 12 results, as well as updated overall rankings:

  1. Netherland’s Ton van Genugten, Iveco, 7:02:36
  2. Czech Republic’s Martin Kolomy, Tatra, 7:06:47
  3. Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev, Kamaz, 7:08:57
  4. Argentina’s Federico Villagra, Iveco, 7:10:05
  5. Kazakhstan’s Artur Ardavichus, Iveco, 7:17:50

OVERALL 

  1. Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev
  2. Argentina’s Federico Villagra, 0:00:01
  3. Belarus’s Siarhei Vlazovich, 3:26:14 behind
  4. Russia’s Airat Mardeev, 5:20:15 behind
  5. Netherland’s Ton van Genugten, 5:23:40 behind

**************************

BIKES

Weather prevented the bikes from taking to the course for Thursday’s Stage 12.

Here’s the overall standings as they were after Stage 11 and remain the same going into Friday’s Stage 13.

OVERALL 

  1. Austria’s Matthias Walkner
  2. Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, 32:00 behind
  3. Australia’s Toby Price, 39:17 behind
  4. Spain’s Gerard Farres, 49:17 behind
  5. France’s Antoine Meo, 59:05 behind

**************************

QUADS

Weather prevented the Quads from taking to the course for Thursday’s Stage 12.

Here’s the overall standings as they were after Stage 11 and remain the same going into Friday’s Stage 13.

  1. Chile’s Ignacio Casale
  2. Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, 1:34:13 behind
  3. Argentina’s Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, 2:09:15 behind
  4. France’s Alex Dutrie, 3:56:48 behind
  5. Brazil’s Marcelo Medeiros, 4:22:22 behind

**************************

SxS UTV

Weather conditions also impacted the UTV class, with entries taking nearly 50 percent double the time it normally would under better weather and track conditions.

Here’s the Stage 12 results, as well as updated overall rankings:

  1. Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela, Can-Am, 9:27:12
  2. France’s Claude Fournier, Polaris, 9:38:54
  3. Spain’s Jose Pena Campos, Polaris, 9:45:27
  4. France’s Patricie Garrouste, Polaris, 9:46:06
  5. Italy’s Camelia Liparoti, Yamaha, 11:02:48

OVERALL 

  1. Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela
  2. France’s Patricie Garroueste, 1:03:27 behind
  3. Spain’s Jose Pena Campos, 9:04:40 behind
  4. France’s Claude Fournier, 9:08:34 behind
  5. Italy’s Camelia Liparoti, 25:39:34 behind

**************************

FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE

Stage 13 takes place Friday, going from San Juan to Cordoba, Argentina

After Friday, just one stage remains in the 2018 Dakar Rally on Saturday, when champions in all five classes will be crowned.

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

MORE: Stage 11 wrapup

MORE: Stage 10 wrapup

MORE: Stage 9 cancelled due to weather, impassible course conditions

MORE: Stage 8 wrapup

MORE: Stage 7 wrapup

MORE: Stage 6 wrapup

MORE: Stage 5 wrapup

MORE: Stage 4 wrapup

MORE: Stage 3 wrapup

MORE: Stage 2 wrapup

MORE: Stage 1 wrapup

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Follow@KyleMLavigne