Reigning champ Nani Roma, top rookie Yazeed Alrajhi done at the Dakar (PHOTOS)

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Nani Roma’s wild crash during Wednesday’s Stage 10 of the 2015 Dakar Rally has sent the reigning champion out of the event.

Roma’s fate had been up in the air for some time after he and co-driver Michel Perin reportedly hit a hole in the terrain that hadn’t been accounted for in their road book and then rolled their Mini at kilometer 193 of the 358km route from Calama, Chile to Salta, Argentina.

Roma and Perin eventually made it to the bivouac at 11:15 p.m. local time last night according to their team. But the duo and their machine were not allowed to start this morning for Stage 11 (Salta to Termas de Rio Hondo) – even though the team has indicated on Twitter that their car was ready to go after a long night of repairs:

For Roma, it’s the end of an altogether difficult Dakar.

The Spaniard’s chances of retaining his title were obliterated on Day 1 thanks to mechanical problems, and he was forced into a support role for the other Mini pilots.

Nonetheless, Roma and Perin bounced back and eventually bagged their first stage win of the Dakar in Tuesday’s Stage 9. But just one day later, their positive momentum came to a halt and now, their event is finished.

Another big name in the car category has also been knocked out of the fight as well. Yazeed Alrajhi had put on a tremendous showing in his inaugural Dakar to run third in the overall standings behind leaders Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers.

But after major problems emerged with the exhaust system on his Toyota Hilux near the start of Thursday’s special, the confident Saudi had to give up his pursuit despite valiant efforts from crewmen to solve his car’s issues:

Before the setback, Alrajhi had collected a Stage 8 win and five podiums in the 2015 Dakar.

Finally, we now have word that Stage 9 quads winner Victor Gallegos has also had to abandon the event this morning. A broken engine is the reported cause.

Other notable withdrawals in recent days include those of stage winner Matthias Walkner and factory Honda rider Jeremias Israel in the bikes; the previously mentioned Ignacio Casale and Sergio Lafuente in the quads; and sports car veteran Romain Dumas in the cars.

F1: Lewis Hamilton qualifies No. 1 for U.S. Grand Prix, on verge of winning 5th title

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Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward earning his fifth Formula One championship on Saturday, qualifying No. 1 for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton and his Mercedes have won five of the previous six U.S. Grand Prix’s held at COTA, including the last four races there.

The Great Britain native comes into Sunday’s race leading the F1 point standings and is seeking to tie Juan Manuel Fangio for second-most F1 career championships. Michael Schumacher has the most with seven crowns.

Sebastian Vettel is Hamilton’s sole remaining challenger for the title, trailing Hamilton by 67 points with four races to go, including Sunday’s race.

Vettel must win Sunday’s race or finish within seven points of Hamilton to prevent the latter from winning the title and pushing a possible clinching scenario to next week in Mexico.

Vettel qualified second Saturday, but due to a red-flag three-position grid penalty sustained during Friday’s morning practice, will start fifth on Sunday’s grid.

As a result of Vettel’s penalty, Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside Hamilton on the front row for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Vallteri Bottas, will start third, while Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez.

Here’s how qualifying played out:

POS NO DRIVER CAR Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:34.130 1:33.480 1:32.237 20
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:34.569 1:33.079 1:32.298 18
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:34.703 1:32.884 1:32.307 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:34.518 1:33.702 1:32.616 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.755 1:34.185 1:33.494 14
6 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:34.876 1:34.522 1:34.145 18
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:34.932 1:34.564 1:34.215 18
8 8 RomainGrosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:34.892 1:34.419 1:34.250 17
9 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.069 1:34.255 1:34.420 17
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:35.193 1:34.525 1:34.594 17
11 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:34.891 1:34.566 12
12 20 KevinMagnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:34.972 1:34.732 12
13 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:34.850 DNS 13
14 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:35.206 DNS 13
15 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:34.766 4
16 14 FernandoAlonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.294 6
17 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.362 6
18 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:35.480 8
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:35.536 8
20 2 StoffelVandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:35.735 6

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