Dakar Stage 2 Highlights: Loeb wins stage, de Villiers takes overall

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Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally featured close finishes in the car and motorcycle classes.

Sebastien Loeb won the second stage on the Peruvian dunes – the site of last year’s accident.

Here are some of the highlights:

In the cars class, Sebastien Loeb, finished eight seconds ahead of Nani Roma. Third-place Bernhard Ten Brinke was 1:20 behind. … Giniel de Villiers was the biggest gainer of the stage. Finishing fourth, he grabbed the overall lead. … Recovering from a neck injury sustained in 2016, Harry Hunt has returned to the Rally to finish ninth in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2. … Nasser Al-Attiyah finished 11th in the stage and fell to eight overall after losing more than seven minutes in Stage 2. … Orlando Terranova was transported to the hospital with back pain after a hard landing in the dunes. … Robby Gordon finished 25th in the stage and is 24th overall.

“For us it was not an easy stage,” Stephane Peterhansel said on Dakar.com, after finishing 17th. “We started with some electrical problems inside the car: no microphones, no air-conditioning, no wipers, nothing was ok. I lost my concentration a little bit and after I got stuck in a really bad place. We are happy because Cyril (Despres) stopped for us and pulled us out. In the end we have lost a lot of time, but without the help of Cyril I think we would probably still be in the same place, so it’s ok.”

Overall: Giniel de Villiers holds an advantage of 0:28 over Ten Brinke and 0:42 over Roma.

In motorcycles, Matthias Walkner edged Ricky Brabec at the end of the stage in the last few kilometers. He crossed into the staging area just 22 seconds ahead of his American rival. This was his fourth career stage win. … Joan Barreda finished third, but holds onto the overall lead. … Andrew Short finished ninth in the stage and is 10th overall.

Overall: Barreda holds an advantage of 1:31 over Walkner and 1:33 over Brabec.

In side by sides it was another narrow victory, this time for Francisco Lopez Contardo over Reinaldo Varela by a margin of only 19 seconds. … Sergei Kariakin finished third (1:51 behind). Casey Currie had navigation issues that relegated him to 16th in the stage – losing 45 minutes to the overall.

Overall: Varella holds an advantage of 1:08 over Contardo and 6:35 over Kariakin

In quads, Nicolas Caviglisasso crushed the stage with an advantage of 11:18 over Gustavo Gallego. … Alexandre Giroud finished third, which is where he also sits in the overall standings.

Overall: Cavigliasso holds an advantage of 21:14 over Gallego and 30:02 over Giroud.

In trucks, Eduard Nikolaev scored his second consecutive stage win to beat Gerard de Rooy by 2:39. Dmitry Sotnikov finished third. … Martin Van Den Brink wrecked during the stage.

Overall: Nokolaev holds an advantage of 4:23 over De Rooy and 7:23 over Federico Villagra.

Stage Wins

Motorcycles: (1) Joan Barreda (Stage 1) and (1) Matthias Walkner, Stage 2
Quads: (2) Nicolas Cavigliasso (Stage 1 and Stage 2)
Cars: (1) Nasser Al-Attiyah (Stage 1) and (1) Sebastien Loeb (Stage 2)
Side-by-sides: (1) Reinaldo Varela (Stage 1) and (1) Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 2)
Trucks: (2) Eduard Nikolaev (Stage 1 and Stage 2)

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Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.