Dakar: Penalties hurt Honda’s Barreda and Goncalves, give Coma breathing room

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A Wednesday night engine swap among factory Honda riders has perhaps cost Joan Barreda a second consecutive stage win in the Dakar Rally and Paulo Goncalves his chance of claiming the overall title.

Prior to Thursday’s 357km Stage 11 from Salta to Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina, a quartet of Honda men – Barreda, Goncalves, Jeremias Israel, and Helder Rodrigues – worked late to change motors on Barreda and Goncalves’ bikes.

Goncalves received a motor from Barreda, and Barreda got one from Israel, who subsequently did not start Thursday and exited the Dakar. In the racing that followed on Thursday, Barreda and Goncalves finished 1-2 in the stage only to be penalized afterwards.

Barreda was hit with a 45-minute penalty, as he had gone for his second engine change of the event. He subsequently tumbled to a 40th-place finish.

Goncalves also drew a lesser penalty of 16 minutes to fall to 22nd place (15 minutes for the change, 1 minute for speeding in a restricted area), ruining a day where he had taken almost two and half minutes off his deficit to overall leader Marc Coma.

Instead, Coma now holds a 21 minute, 12 second advantage over Goncalves with two days left, and because of Barreda and Goncalves’ penalties, Slovakia’s Ivan Jakes was awarded the stage win by eight seconds over Coma’s KTM teammate, Ruben Faria.

Afterwards, Goncalves made sure to express gratitude for his teammate’s sacrifice but acknowledged that tracking down Coma in the final two stages will be a tall task.

“I had a problem with my engine yesterday and had to change it,” Goncalves said. “Since it was a marathon stage, of course, one of our riders had to stay in Cachi. It was Jeremias Israel, who gave his engine. It’s very brave to have done that. It’s the end of the race for him, so I’m going to try and get the best position so that I can dedicate it to him.

“Because of the penalty, I’ve given a free 15 minutes to all my rivals. But that’s the rules of the race and they’re the same for everybody. It was already difficult 7 minutes behind, even if I managed to regain around two minutes on the stage today. But now it’s even more difficult.

“That said, others can also have the problem that I had yesterday, so it’s not too late to hope to finish in the top position.”

For his part, however, Coma is far from ready to plan a victory celebration at the end of Saturday’s 13th and final stage in Buenos Aires.

While his lead has grown considerably thanks to Goncalves’ penalty, the defending Dakar champion knows that he must stay on the gas and stay out of trouble.

“We’ve managed to get through [the marathon stage],” Coma said. “It’s always stressful when you have to work on the bike, but everything is OK. There is still a difficult day to complete tomorrow, then again on Saturday.

“I’m not thinking about the finish yet. We’ll see, because there are still a fair few kilometers to go. But for the moment, I’m happy.”

Toby Price finished third on Thursday at 42 seconds back of Jakes, followed by Coma (+ 1:05) and then Pablo Quintanilla in fifth (+ 2:38).

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally continues with Stage 11 highlights tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. ET.

2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Motorcycles
(After Stage 11 – Salta to Termas de Rio Hondo)

1. 1-Marc Coma (KTM), 41hrs, 43mins, 3secs
2. 7-Paulo Goncalves (Honda), + 21mins, 12secs (+ 16mins penalty in Stage 11)
3. 26-Toby Price (KTM), + 31mins, 43secs
4. 31-Pablo Quintanilla (KTM), + 33mins, 15secs
5. 18-Stefan Svitko (KTM), + 48mins, 7secs
6. 11-Ruben Faria (KTM), + 1hr, 40mins, 43secs
7. 9-David Casteu (KTM), + 1hr, 46mins, 51secs
8. 29-Laia Sanz (Honda), + 2hrs, 13mins, 20secs
9. 21-Ivan Jakes (KTM), + 2hrs, 24mins, 46secs
10. 3-Olivier Pain (Yamaha), + 2hrs, 55mins, 17secs

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)