Dakar: Rafal Sonik takes control in quads; Kamaz team back on top in trucks (VIDEO)

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Last year’s Dakar Rally quads runner-up, Rafal Sonik, is your new leader in the category after winning in Stage 2 on Monday in Argentina.

The Polish racer (pictured, from 2014) followed-up his second-place showing in Sunday’s opening stage with a win over defending Dakar champion Ignacio Casale of Chile by a margin of just over three and a half minutes. From the overall standpoint, that means a lead of two minutes, 26 seconds for Sonik.

Stage 2 from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan, Argentina was the longest of the 2015 Dakar at 518 kilometers. Casale said he had to slow down over the final 100 kilometers of the stage, because he was dealing with dehydration after running out of water.

“Today, it was a very difficult stage, the hardest I’ve ridden in my life,” Casale said. “I thought that I was going to drop out. I had a lot of thoughts running around my mind throughout the day…I suffered a lot and didn’t feel great at all. I slowed down my pace over the last 100 km.

“In any case, given the length and toughness of the stage, the aim was to make sure I finished…But I couldn’t do anything more. I was in a really complicated situation. I went and sat in the medical tent for 40 minutes to rest and drink…I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

As for the trucks, the KAMAZ team – winners of a record 12 Dakar Rallies – bounced back from a tough Sunday (none of their entries finished in the Top 5) to get two out of the Top 3 spots on Monday, including P1.

Russian pilot Eduard Nikolaev scored a 46-second win over the Iveco team’s Siarhei Viazovich of Belarus. Ayrat Mardeev put his KAMAZ in third position, just three seconds behind Viazovich.

Hans Stacey, the Stage 1 winner, initially kept hold of the top overall position in the truck category with a fourth-place run in his Iveco. However, he was penalized one minute and was dropped to sixth in Monday’s stage. That means Nikolaev is now leading the pack with a slim lead of 40 seconds over Stacey.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III