Dakar: Mighty Minis once again too strong for competition

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Mini didn’t get another sweep of the Dakar Rally podium, but they still secured their fourth consecutive victory in the event thanks to Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In 2014, the manufacturer locked out the Top 3 with Nani Roma, Stephane Peterhansel (who later switched allegiances to Peugeot), and Al-Attiyah.

This year, Roma’s title defense was immediately done in by mechanical problems in Stage 1 and after a Stage 10 crash, the Spaniard was not allowed to continue on.

But Al-Attiyah stepped up for the marque and led a group of four Minis in the Top 5 – himself, Krzysztof Holowczyc in third, Erik Van Loon in fourth, and Vladimir Vasilyev in fifth.

Only Toyota man and runner-up Giniel de Villiers kept Mini from fully sweeping the Top 5.

As for the 13 stages, a Mini driver won all but two of them. Al-Attiyah chipped in five wins, followed by Orlando Terranova’s four, and one win apiece from Roma (Stage 9) and Vasilyev (Stage 5).

The only non-Mini men to earn stage wins were Yazeed Alrajhi for Toyota in Stage 8 and Robby Gordon, who got the inaugural triumph for his HST “Gordini” in the final Stage 13.

To sum it up, Mini was giant.

“The Mini ALL4 Racing once again succeeded in convincing to the max,” said Sven Quandt, CEO of the X-Raid team that designs and builds the Dakar Minis. “Four Mini racers in the top five is another sensational result. With our experience and our good preparation we prevailed against our really strong competitors.

“In addition, we also clinched 11 of 13 possible stage wins. You couldn’t expect to achieve far more in a Dakar. Nasser did everything the right way, this year, and used his own wits. That’s the approach that gave him the win.”

Oddly enough, Al-Attiyah himself is the last non-Mini driver to win the Dakar. His first title in 2011 was achieved with a Volkswagen Touareg.

Juncos Racing to field single car entry in Indy 500

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Part-time NTT IndyCar Series entrant Juncos Racing will announce their attempt to qualify for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 within the next few weeks, according to RACER.

The team, which made its Indy 500 debut in 2017, ran 12 of the 17 IndyCar Series races last season, but has only made a start in one of the four events so far in 2019, finishing 18th in the inaugural running of the IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas with Kyle Kaiser behind the wheel.

Though no driver has yet to be announced for the single-car entry, Kaiser is expected to be the leading candidate for the ride. The 23-year-old Californian has raced for the team since 2014, where he won the 2017 Indy Lights championship.

One of the top teams in the Road to Indy ladder system, Juncos Racing has over 50 wins between Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000 competition. The team’s most recent victory came in the second Indy Lights race at St. Petersburg this year with Rinus VeeKay behind the wheel.

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