Photo courtesy MenziesMotorsports.com

Lingering injury forces U.S. driver Bryce Menzies to withdraw from Dakar Rally

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The United States contingent in the 2017 Dakar Rally has suffered a major blow – even though the Rally doesn’t begin until Jan. 2.

Dakar Rally coverage begins on Tuesday, January 3, at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

In a release, driver Bryce Menzies, who was slated to compete in his first-ever Rally, has been forced to withdraw from the world-renowned race through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. The reason given is the 29-year-old Menzies continues to experience complications from an injury he sustained in a crash last August. The official Dakar website has also confirmed Menzies’ withdrawal.

“I am beyond disappointed to have to withdraw from starting this year’s Dakar,” Menzies said, according to the release. “It has been a lifelong goal of mine that will have to wait another year before I can attempt.”

Menzies broke the world record for a truck jump, flying 379.4 feet through the air, in August near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After setting the mark, Menzies had planned to repeat the jump – and try to break his new mark – during a live webcast a week later. But during practice for the second jump, his Red Bull truck crashed and Menzies suffered a broken shoulder.

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Since then, he’s experienced complications, including the need for an additional surgery, leaving him physically unable to perform in the Dakar Rally.

“I knew it would it be tough to get back to 100 percent after my injuries from the world record New Frontier jump,” Menzies said. “Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get to a point where I’d be both comfortable in the car for that long and technically able to compete at the level warranted to win.

“It also wasn’t worth re-injuring anything and then being out for the more races this season.”

But Menzies isn’t giving up totally on racing in the Rally: he’s just postponing it a year.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of my MINI later this year as we put in the homework needed to get ready for 2018 Dakar,” he said.

Menzies will be replaced in his MINI John Cooper Works Rally by Argentinean driver Orlando Terranova and German navigator Andreas Schulz.

Terranova finished fifth in the 2013 and 2014 Dakar Rally’s, while Schulz is a two-time winner of the legendary event (2001, 2003).

“(Menzies’ withdrawal is) really bad news, X-raid Team Manager Sven Quandt said in the release. “Bryce is a very gifted driver and certainly would have secured several good results in his first Dakar.

“But it also is of major importance that he fully focuses on his recovery to afterwards return to motor racing in top form. So, we and MINI opted for letting Orly and Andi switch to the MINI John Cooper Works Rally. They are a very competitive pairing.”

Menzies’ original co-driver was slated to be fellow U.S. racer Peter Mortensen. There has been no word yet on whether Menzies’ withdrawal from the Rally will also force Mortensen out or if he’ll join another team. Like Menzies, Mortensen was also slated to compete in his first-ever Dakar Rally.

Also, click here to read about Menzies’ record-breaking jump from back in August.

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Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”