Dakar: One day after team orders, Peterhansel takes control in Stage 12 (VIDEO)

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Problems for Nani Roma opened the door for Stephane Peterhansel to take the overall car lead in Stage 12 of the Dakar Rally one day after his Mini team had told him to end his fight against the Spaniard.

In an attempt to pull off a podium sweep in the category, Mini told its drivers yesterday to hold position with Roma in first, Peterhansel in second and Nasser Al-Attiyah in third. But today, Roma suffered a tire puncture early on and later on got briefly stuck in a dune on the route to La Serena, Chile.

Now, after a bizarre afternoon, Peterhansel holds a 26-second overall lead over Roma with the final stage coming tomorrow.

“Nasser started behind me and after one hundred kilometers, he was close to me, so I stopped and he passed and just afterwards, we overtook Nani – I think he had a puncture because he was really slow,” Peterhansel said.

“At the end, I stopped on the dunes to show him that if he wanted to he could go past, but he didn’t want to open the way on the dunes. So I opened on the dunes and finished very calmly.”

However, Peterhansel believes that Mini’s team orders remain in play even with the shuffling of positions, telling Agence France-Presse that “the instructions will perhaps be reissued tonight and we will listen to them.”

Al-Attiyah finished second behind Peterhansel today by three minutes, 38 seconds to keep grip on the final podium spot as the end of the rally draws near.

In the bikes, 2013 class champ Cyril Despres remained white-hot in this second week of racing, claiming the stage win by two minutes, 17 seconds over current overall leader Marc Coma.

Barring a massive breakdown, Coma has a clean shot to the championship tomorrow after his closest rival, Joan Barreda, tumbled from the runner-up position following a dreadful day.

Barreda’s Honda team reports that he crashed at the 264-kilometer mark and the Dakar website said that following electrical problems emerging on his bike, he was forced to stop several times after that point and finished the special on foot – almost two-and-a-half hours behind Despres.

With that, Barreda has lost out on a podium finish, tumbling to seventh in the overall. Meanwhile, Jorge Viladoms now leads a tight battle for P2 behind Coma; he is almost two hours off Coma’s pace, but is up just 10 minutes, 27 seconds on third-place Olivier Pain, while Despres, in fourth, only sits an additional 3 minutes, 45 seconds off of Pain.

It also appears smooth sailing for Chile’s own Ignacio Casale, who looks ready to claim the big trophy in the quads. Casale earned the win today by five minutes, five seconds over Sebastian Husseini, and now leads overall over Rafal Sonik by a margin of 1 hour, 23 minutes, 42 seconds.

In the trucks, a close finish awaits for Andrey Karginov and Gerard de Rooy, who erased 31 seconds from his deficit during his win today over the Russian. Still, Karginov holds the top spot overall over de Rooy by 7 minutes, 25 seconds.

Only tomorrow’s 157-kilometer route from La Serena to Valparaiso remains left to conquer.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.