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F1: Hamilton outduels Raikkonen to win Italian GP; Vettel finishes fifth after spin

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Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix developed into a thrilling tactical duel between Ferrari and Mercedes, though it started with a literal bang after title combatants Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel made contact in the second chicane – the Variante della Roggia – while battling for second behind the pole sitting Kimi Raikkonen.

The contact tipped Vettel into a spin and dropped him to 18th in the running order before a Safety Car was deployed – there was also contact between Brendon Hartley, Marcus Ericsson, and Stoffel Vandoorne that caused damage to Hartley’s Toro Rosso, forcing him to retire and necessitating the Safety Car.

The incident left Hamilton and Raikkonen to fight it out for the win the rest of the way, and Hamilton even briefly overtook Raikkonen when racing resumed on Lap 4 – Hamilton got the slipstream behind Raikkonen and he made an outside pass approaching the first chicane, the Variante del Rettifilio.

However, Raikkonen immediately countered on the run up to the Variante della Roggia to retake the lead with a similar outside move, and they ran 1-2 through the opening stint until Raikkonen made his pit stop on Lap 21.

Mercedes left Hamilton out in hopes of using the overcut to give Hamilton the lead, but Raikkonen was able to bring the gap between them back down to emerge ahead of Hamilton after the Mercedes driver pitted on lap 28.

Mercedes then opted for Plan B, leaving Valtteri Bottas out in hopes that he would hold Raikkonen up enough to allow Hamilton to close back in. And the plan worked to perfection, with Hamilton all over Raikkonen’s gearbox after Bottas pitted on Lap 37.

More crucially, Raikkonen’s tires began to show big signs of wear, especially on the left-rear, hampering his ability to defend against Hamilton. And on Lap 45, Hamilton pounced, sticking an outside pass on Raikkonen entering the Variante del Rettifilio chicane to take the lead for good.

Hamilton led Raikkonen home from there to take his sixth win of the year.

Behind them, Vettel was on the charge to limit the damage from his opening lap spin and subsequent pit stop for a new front wing – he suffered damage in the contact with Hamilton. He was back in the points before the opening round of stops began, but Vettel needed to make another stop on Lap 30 for new tires.

Ultimately, Vettel came back to finish fourth.

Meanwhile, Bottas was engaged in a tense fight for third with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and their fight culminated in contact between them as well. Bottas tried an outside pass on Verstappen entering the Variante del Rettifilio on Lap 43, but Verstappen moved across to block the move and forced Bottas into the runoff area.

Verstappen was handed a five-second time penalty for initiating the contact, and even though he crossed the finish line in third, he was relegated to fifth behind Bottas and Vettel – Bottas ultimately rounded out the podium.

Romain Grosjean finished sixth, with Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez scoring the second consecutive double-points result for the newly renamed Racing Point Force India squad – they finished seventh and eighth.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished ninth, with Lance Stroll finishing 10th to score the final point.

Results are below. Hamilton now leads Vettel by 30 points in the driver’s championship, and Mercedes increased the gap over Ferrari in the constructor’s championship to 25 points.

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Dakar Stage 8 Highlights: Ricky Brabec blows engine, retires

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The motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally has been a seesaw affair through seven stages, but Ricky Brabec seemed poised to win the class for the USA. Until he blew an engine in Stage 8 that is – and gave up a more-than seven second lead. He was the second rider to retire after starting the stage as the leader. Joan Barreda retired in Stage 3.

Brabec was looking to become the first American rider to win in 27 years, but his fate was eerily similar to last year. Three days from the end of the stage, he retired about 50 kilometers into the stage, which is precisely when and where he retired in 2018.

With Brabec’s trouble, Toby Price leapfrogged from third to second in class despite riding with a metal pin in his wrist. In the world’s most grueling endurance event, it has never been more obvious that it isn’t over till it’s over.

Meanwhile, Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to run a consistent rally. With a 46 minute advantage over Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb, all he needs to do is stay error free for the final two stages to win his third Dakar.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Sebastien Loeb scored his fifth stage win of the Rally by seven minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah, but problems in Stage 3 have kept him from being competitive for the overall lead. … Jakub Przygonski earned his third podium of the Rally. All of these have been third-place finishes.

Class Leaders: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 46:29 over Roma and 46:45 over Loeb.

In motorcycles, Ricky Brabec’s blown engine opened up the class once more. … Matthias Walkner narrowly edged Pablo Quintanilla by 45 seconds. … But it was Toby Price’s third-place finish that helped elevate him to the class lead. … Sam Sunderland was supposed to blaze the path for the riders, but a malfunctioning navigation system kept him from rolling off first. Blazing the trail is a disadvantage and officials adjudged him to have tampered with his system to avoid that fate. Sunderland was penalized an hour to finish 35th on the stage. He dropped to ninth in class.

Class Leaders: Price inherited the lead over Quintanilla by 1:03 and 6:35 over Walkner

In side by sides, Francisco Lopez Contardo scored the victory over Cristian Baumgart by 4:47. … Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.

Class Leaders: Contardo holds an advantage 0f 54:10 over Rodrigo Piazolli and one hour, 08:09 over Guell

In quads, there was no surprise in Nicolas Cavigliasso winning his seventh stage of the season. … He padded his overall advantage over Gustavo Gallego by more than nine minutes. … Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli finished third.

Class Leaders: Cavigliasso holds and advantage of one hour, 24:52 over Ferioli and one hour, 44:04 over Gallego

In trucks, Dmitry Sotnikov won the stage to take over the class lead. He beat Ton Van Genugten by 22:01. … Siarhei Viazovich rounded out the top three. … Eduard Nikolaev lost the class lead by finishing eighth – nearly one hour behind Sotnikov.

Class Leaders: Sotnikov holds an advantage of 26:49 over and one hour, 7:43 over Gerard de Rooy

Stage Wins

Motorcycles
Sam Sunderland [2] (Stage 5 and 7), Matthias Walkner [2] (Stage 2 and 8), Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3), Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4) and Pablo Quintanilla [1] (Stage 6)

Quads
Nicolas Cavigliasso [7] (Stage 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli [1] (Stage 3)

Cars
Sebastien Loeb [4] (Stage 2, 5, 6 and 8), Nasser Al-Attiyah [2] (Stage 1 and 4) and Stephane Peterhansel [2] (Stage 3 and 7)

Side-by-sides
Francisco Lopez Contardo [4] (Stage 2, 6, 7 and 8), Reinaldo Varela [1] (Stage 1), Gerard Farres Guell [1] (Stage 3), Sergei Kariakin [1] (Stage 4) and Rodrigo Piazzoli [1] (Stage 5)

Trucks
Eduard Nikolaev [3] (Stage 1, 2 and 5), Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4), Dmitry Sotnikov [2] (Stage 6 and 8) and Gerard de Rooy [1] (Stage 7)

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