Dakar: Al-Attiyah in full control after Stage 10 win; Nani Roma crashes (VIDEO)

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On a Wednesday where defending Dakar Rally champion Nani Roma crashed, Nasser Al-Attiyah moved into even better position to take Roma’s crown for himself.

Al-Attiyah, who finished third in an all-Mini podium last year, captured his fourth stage victory of the 2015 Dakar and extended his overall lead to 28 minutes, 22 seconds over Toyota’s Giniel de Villiers.

The Qatari won the stage by 1 minute, 35 seconds over another Mini pilot, Orlando Terranova. Yazeed Alrajhi was third at 3:39 back, followed by Leeroy Poulter with a Dakar-best fourth (+ 4:06), and then de Villiers in fifth (+ 4:24).

“It wasn’t an easy day,” Al-Attiyah said. “I think the last few days must’ve seen a lot of rain which deepened the holes on the course. That’s what made Nani’s car turn over, but he’s fine. We’re here and I’m rather happy because I think we clocked a good time.

“We’re doing our job every day, the rest isn’t my problem. We need to get to the finish. I’m happy with how things are going, we’ve been leading the rally since the start in Buenos Aires.

“It’s not that easy, but the team’s done a great job, just like [co-driver] Mathieu [Baumel]. The only mishap we’ve had is the day we lost a wheel.”

A navigational error on Tuesday left de Villiers with a fading chance of winning the Dakar. But while he knows it will take a big stumble from Al-Attiyah to get him back in the fight, he says he hasn’t lost all hope yet.

“Nasser’s too far ahead, it makes no sense to take risks,” he said. “We won’t be able to catch him unless he makes mistakes, but it can happen.

“Yesterday was a disappointment, but we still believe in our chances, you never know. It ain’t over yet. Things are good, on balance, because we know we’re still in the fight for victory.”

Meanwhile, Roma’s apparent turning of the corner following his win in Tuesday’s Stage 9 came to an abrupt halt with a wreck that caused him, co-driver Michel Perin, and their Mini to reportedly roll over multiple times at kilometer 193.

Both Roma and Perin are fine, but it marks another disaster this year for Roma. His title defense was quickly ruined on the first day of the Dakar due to an oil-pump issue.

An official abandonment of the event for Roma following Wednesday’s crash has yet to be announced by his team.

American driver Robby Gordon had a so-so result in the 358km Stage 10 from Calama, Chile to Salta, Argentina, finishing 21st at 18:32 behind Al-Attiyah.

Gordon started the stage amongst the Top 10 but slipped back and maintained a 15th to 18th-place pace for much of the day before dropping out of the Top 20 in the final kilometers.

He and co-driver Johnny Campbell still retain 20th place in the overall standings.

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally continues with Stage 10 highlights tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. ET.

2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Cars
(After Stage 10 – Calama, Chile to Salta, Argentina)

1. 301-Nasser Al-Attiyah (Mini), 35hrs, 19mins, 37secs
2. 303-Giniel de Villiers (Toyota), + 28mins, 22secs
3. 325-Yazeed Alrajhi (Toyota), + 43mins, 8secs
4. 307-Krzysztof Holowczyc (Mini), + 1hr, 23mins, 42secs
5. 314-Erik Van Loon (Mini), + 2hrs, 51mins, 13secs
6. 309-Christian Lavieille (Toyota), + 3hrs, 1min, 41secs
7. 310-Vladimir Vasilyev (Mini), + 3hrs, 12mins, 10secs
8. 315-Bernhard Ten Brinke (Toyota), + 3hrs, 39mins, 28secs
9. 306-Carlos Sousa (Mitsubishi), + 3hrs, 41mins, 53secs
10. 329-Aidyn Rakhimbayev (Mini), + 3hrs, 59mins, 17secs
20. 308-Robby Gordon (Gordini), + 7hrs, 41mins, 25secs

IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

Live race coverage of IMSA’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCsports.com and the NBC Sports app with an encore presentation of the race airing later in the evening at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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