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.

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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