Dakar Rally Motorcycle favorite Sam Sunderland withdraws due to back injury

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Tuesday was only the fourth day of the 40th Dakar Rally, but already it has claimed two of its top entrants.

On Sunday, Car driver and US pilot Bryce Menzies crashed and destroyed his Mini, ending his bid for a title.

Now comes word that earlier today, defending Dakar Rally Motorcycle champ Sam Sunderland — who was one of the top favorites to win in this year’s Rally — has withdrawn after experiencing severe back pains.

One media report said Sunderland landed hard following a jump and rode the final 3.5 miles before coming up short of the finish and telling Rally officials that he had lost feeling in both of his legs.

After his body was immobilized in a full-length air compression suit for medical precautionary reasons, Sunderland was transported to a local hospital by helicopter. A subsequent media report said the feeling had to returned to Sunderland’s legs after arriving at the hospital and undergoing treatment.

A British native, Sunderland was the overall leader in the Motorcycle class when he withdrew near the end of the 205-mile Stage 4 circuit that began and ended in San Juan de Marcona, Peru.

Sunderland, who now lives in Qatar, has not commented on his withdrawal, nor has he taken to Twitter yet to offer any information.

We’ll continue to monitor Sunderland’s situation and update this post as needed, particularly if we receive any comments from him.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.