Dakar: Gallegos wins Stage 9 in quads, while Sonik re-takes overall lead (VIDEO)

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Chile’s Victor Gallegos thrust himself into the battle for quad supremacy between fellow Chilean Ignacio Casale and Poland’s Rafal Sonik in Tuesday’s Stage 9 of the 2015 Dakar Rally.

Gallegos, who finished fifth in the category in his inaugural Dakar last year, defeated Sonik by more than 15 minutes on Tuesday to earn his first-ever Dakar stage win.

After his Top-5 overall finish in 2014, Gallegos hasn’t been as stout in his second go-round in the world’s toughest rally. Through nine stages this year, he has just two Top-5 finishes; at this point last year, he had collected five Top-5s already.

But Gallegos feels that he has shown how strong he truly is.

“It was a good stage with a good pace,” he said. “It’s the first stage where I haven’t had any mechanical problems…Last year, I finished the Dakar in fifth place and this year, my goal was to be among the leaders. I haven’t enjoyed a particularly favorable first half of the Dakar, but today in any case, I showed the pace that I am capable of.

“I’m all the happier with the day’s work seeing as I’m on a 450 cc quad whilst my rivals are riding 750 cc.”

As for the overall fight, Sonik has re-taken the lead once more after beating Casale (fourth on Tuesday) by almost 11 minutes. With four stages left in the 2015 Dakar, Sonik is now up on Casale by four minutes even.

A 1-minute, 29-second stage win for Ayrat Mardeev on Tuesday allowed him to continue leading the overall standings in the truck category.

But with four stages to go, it’s time to cue up the ‘Jaws’ music. Because Mardeev’s KAMAZ teammate, Eduard Nikolaev, continues to move closer to the top spot.

Nikolaev’s win in Monday’s Stage 8 allowed him to move up to third in the overall, and his runner-up finish on Tuesday to Mardeev has now propelled him to second on the big board at 14 minutes, 10 seconds back.

With five wins already in the 2015 Dakar, Nikolaev can easily tighten things up further in the final days. Mardeev may not be able to afford even the slightest stumble now.

Andrey Karginov, the defending Dakar truck champion, fell out of P2 overall after finishing fourth on Tuesday by 15 and a half minutes. What had been a five-minute gap to the leader Mardeev is now at almost 21 minutes. Time will tell if Tuesday proves to be the end of his title defense.

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally continues with Stage 9 highlights tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.