Dakar: Peterhansel closes in on Roma in Stage 9 (VIDEO)

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11-time Dakar Rally champion Stephane Peterhansel (pictured) became the all-time Dakar leader in stage wins with a victory today in Stage 9 from Calama to Iquique, Chile.

With the setting having shifted to the sands of Chile’s Atacama Desert, Peterhansel collected his 64th career win in the Dakar, surpassing Vladimir Chagin to claim the special record.

The Frenchman earned the Tuesday triumph by two minutes, 10 seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah, and he also drew closer to overall car leader and third-place finisher Nani Roma.

With four stages remaining, the battle is far from decided as Roma’s lead over Peterhansel has shrunk again – this time, to 12 minutes, 10 seconds. And as the Dakar hits crunch time, Peterhansel is relishing his role as the hunter.

“For sure, I am in a good position because I have no pressure…I am not the leader,” he said. “Now I’m trying to drive as fast as possible. I’m taking real pleasure in it now, because I have nothing to lose.

“At the end, I’m second and it’s not my goal to finish second. So I will push and we will see what happens.”

Overall bike leader Marc Coma strengthened his grip on a potential title after a critical win today, while yesterday’s winner, Cyril Despres, followed up with a second place result.

“It was a complicated stage in the Atacama Desert,” said Coma, who now holds a overall lead of 55 minutes, 36 seconds over Joan Barreda.

“Very nice and very fast at the beginning, but on the last part we found some dunes. I tried to catch Joan, because he started two minutes in front of me. When I caught up with him I tried to follow to ride together to the end. It was a good day for me.”

As for Barreda, he initially finished second behind Coma today but drew a penalty that caused him to settle for ninth according to the Dakar website.

Quads leader Ignacio Casale nearly suffered disaster today on the road to Iquique. The Chilean racer was forced to stop multiple times to tend to a tire puncture.

But after putting on a spare, he was able to charge to a second-place finish behind stage winner Sebastian Husseini and also put more ground between himself and main rivals Sergio Lafuente and Rafal Sonik in the overall; Casale is now up 22 minutes, 39 seconds on Lafuente, while Sonik sits 46 minutes, 28 seconds behind.

“In the end, it’s a good stage, because I managed to claw the time back on my pursuers,” Casale said. “I was a bit scared, because there was a lot of time to make up and I had to push myself and the machine, but I’ve managed to get to Iquique after a positive stage, so I’m very happy.”

Andrey Karginov was finally able to put a dent in Gerard de Rooy’s overall lead in the truck category. Karginov earned his second consecutive win, taking away just over 19 minutes from the Dutchman in the process.

de Rooy still came away with a second, but after Stage 9, his lead over Karginov has fallen to 13 minutes, 28 seconds. He may remain atop the standings but the margin of error has noticeably slimmed.

New Formula E champ, teammate fined for ‘underwear violation’

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During this past weekend’s pair of season-ending races in New York, newly-crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne and Techeetah teammate Andre Lotterer were fined nearly $6,000 apiece for, well, there’s no easier way to say it than, “underwear violations.”

According to Jalopnik.com, the two drivers were fined for “wearing non-compliant” underwear during qualifying for Sunday’s second and final race of the weekend.

In addition to cash, the duo also lost two penalty points each for violating Article 30.14 of the Formula E 2017/2018 regulations.

In case you’re wondering, the violation has nothing to do with not wearing the right sponsor’s brand of jockeys or boxers.

Rather, Formula E ruled the underwear the drivers wore was a “safety issue” and that the drivers were penalized for wearing “non-compliant” underwear.

Drivers are required to wear fire- and flame-resistant outer- and under-garments while behind the wheel to help minimize the risk of being burned in the event of a crash and resulting fire.

Here’s how Formula E characterized the violation in a statement about Vergne’s penalty

“After checking the clothes, helmet and front head restraint of the driver, it was found that he was wearing non-compliant underwear pants which are not allowed by the [FIA’s] international sporting code. The driver apologized. The stewards consider that in this case the infringement occurred during group qualifying with limited cars on circuit for a short period of time.”

It’s not the first time Formula E drivers have been penalized for having on the wrong kind of drawers.

Former F-E champ Lucas di Grassi was penalized three points and nearly $10,000 in March for fire-resistant underwear that FIA officials called “too short.”

Gee, who knew that pre-qualifying “inspection” could be so personal?

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