Dakar 2017: Loeb, Price move into leads on Day 2

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In Tuesday’s second stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally, Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán, FIA World Rally Championship legend Sebastien Loeb, in search of his first Dakar overall win, and defending Dakar bike champion Toby Price took stage wins to move into the lead of the car and bike classes.

You can see Tuesday’s stage from the Dakar at 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, on NBCSN. That’s an hour later than today’s coverage of the opening stage.

Loeb, the nine-time FIA WRC champion, won four stages on his Dakar debut a year ago but ended ninth overall.

Now, the driver of the BFGoodrich Tire-shod No. 309 3008 DKR Peugeot for Team Peugeot Total took the stage win with longtime co-driver Daniel Elena by one minute, 23 seconds over stage one winner Nasser Al-Attiyah and two minutes, 18 seconds over Carlos Sainz.

This moves Loeb into the lead of the rally over the same two competitors, by 28 seconds over Al-Attiyah and one minute, 58 seconds over Sainz, respectively.

Defending bike champion Toby Price has taken his first stage win in this year’s Dakar Rally. The Australian, who rides the No. 1 450 Rally Replica KTM for the Red Bull KTM Factory Team, took the stage win by three minutes and 22 seconds over Matthias Walkner (No. 16 KTM) and three minutes and 51 seconds over Paulo Goncalves (No. 17 Honda).

The result on the day also now mirrors the bikes standings overall after two days. Price’s lead is two minutes, 39 seconds over Walkner and two minutes, 54 seconds over Goncalves.

Ricky Brabec, the American who finished third on the road and was promoted to second after a speeding violation assessed to the stage winner, was eighth on the day on his No. 9 Honda, more than five minutes behind. Juan Pedrero Garcia, who won Monday’s first stage, was 13th in his No. 12 Sherco TVS.

Other Tuesday stage winners included Martin van den Brink (Trucks, No. 506 CBH 385 Renault Trucks, Mammoet-Riwald Rallysport), and Paolo Copetti (Quads, No. 263 Raptor 700 Yamaha, MX Devisa by Berta). Mao Ruijin (UTV, No. 342 RZR Polaris, XtremePlus Polaris Racing International) had the lead in that class on the day at press time with the remainder of the top three still to finish.

Van den Brink was third in stage one in Trucks, 25 seconds behind stage winner Martin Kolomy. Marcelo Medeiros was the stage one winner in Quads, and Tim Coronel was the stage one winner in UTVs.

Here was the stage map and a couple other shots as the rally moved from stage one to stage two.


Day 1 Recap

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide


Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.