Getty Images

Al-Attiyah, Sunderland stake early leads in Stage 1 of Dakar Rally

Leave a comment

Editor’s note: Don’t miss NBCSN’s first report from Dakar on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. ET.

The 40th annual Dakar Rally – and its 10th consecutive year in South America – opened Saturday with lots of action in Stage 1.

Most importantly, rain – which was a constant hindrance in last year’s Rally, including washing out one full stage and drastically shortening another – was nowhere in sight.

The 31-kilometer (19.26 miles) inaugural sprint kicked off the 14-stage, two-week event in the morning starting in Lima, Peru and ending in nearby Pisco, Peru.

For the second straight year, Robby Gordon – a perennial Rally fan favorite – is not entered.

In fact, there are only six U.S. competitors in the 523 “adventurer’s” field: One entrant in Cars (Bryce Menzies) and five in Motorcycles (Ricky Brabec, Andrew Short, Mark Samuels, Bill Conger, and Shane Esposito).

MORE: Dakar Rally kicks off today, marks 40th year overall and 10th year in South America.

MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, all competitors

Here’s results and highlights from Saturday’s Stage 1:

CARS

In the marquee Cars class, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah – a two-time Rally winner – took his Toyota to the No. 1 spot in a time of 21 minutes, 51 seconds.

Second through fifth were:

  • Holland’s Bernhard ten Brinke, Toyota, 22:16
  • Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs, Borgward, 22:25
  • U.S.’s Bryce Menzies (co-driver Peter Mortensen), Mini, 22:29
  • Spain’s Nani Roma, Mini, 22:44

MOTORCYCLES

Defending champion Sam Sunderland of Britain (although he now lives in Dubai) had an outstanding first Stage, clocking in at 20:55 to grab the early lead in the class.

Second through fifth were:

  • France’s Adrien van Beveren, Yamaha, 21:28
  • Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna, 21:51
  • Spain’s Joan Barreda Bort, Honda, 21:52
  • France’s Xavier De Soultrait, Yamaha, 22:02

Also, here’s the position and times of the five U.S. riders in the class:

  • 11th: Ricky Brabec, Honda, 23:42
  • 27th: Andrew Short, Husqvarna, 25:46
  • 35th: Mark Samuels, Honda, 27:01
  • 93rd: Bill Conger, Husqvarna, 43:32
  • 125th: Shane Esposito, KTM, 2.39:54

QUADS

  • 1. Chile’s Ignacio Casale, Yamaha, 27:32
  • 2. Russia’s Sergei Kariakin, Yamaha, 28:32
  • 3. Argentina’s Pablo Copetti, Yamaha, 30:31
  • 4. Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, Yamaha, 30:40
  • 5. Poland’s Rafal Sonik, Yamaha, 31:33

SxS UTV

  • 1. Peru’s Anibal Aliaga, Polaris, 31:27
  • 2. Spain’s Jose Pena Campo, Polaris, 34:28
  • 3. France’s Claudio Fournier, Polaris, 34:50
  • 4. Portugal’s Pedro De Mello Breyner, Yamaha, 35:10
  • 5. Italy’s Camelia Liparoti, Yamaha, 35:13]

TRUCK

  • 1. Czech Republic’s Ales Loprais, Tatra, 25:15
  • 2. Netherland’s Martin Van den Brink, Renault, 25:37
  • 3. Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev, Kamaz, 25:44
  • 4. Netherland’s Ton van Genugten, Iveco, 26:26
  • 5. Russia’s Anton Shibalov, Kamaz, 26:33

NOTES:

  • The first crash of the day involved Lebanese drivers Jad Comair and Antoine Iskandar’s BMW, which rolled over in the sand dunes area of the course. Both drivers were uninjured.
  • The first contestant eliminated was Portuguese motorcycle rider Joaquim Rodrigues, who was participating in his first Dakar Rally. Rodrigues managed to get just a few hundred meters from the starting line before he was involved in a spectacular crash that sent him to a local hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.
  • Saturday’s opening stage was easy in comparison to what’s coming up. Sunday’s Stage 2 will be a circuitous 279 kilometer (173.3 miles) route that begins and ends in Pisco, Peru.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Leave a comment

James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”