Dakar Stage 3 Highlights: Joan Barreda suffers crushing defeat

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Joan Barreda suffered a crushing disappointment in Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally. Entering the 206-mile stage as the overall leader, he dropped down a deep embankment in the fog and became stuck at the bottom of a basin. Unable to extract his motorcycle, he was forced to call for the helicopter and will retire from the rally for the fourth time in nine tries. It was his third retirement in the past four years.

The two overall leaders entering the stage also had trouble. Matthias Walkner and Ricky Brabec placed the blame on the road book, stating that a way point was not where the book showed it to be.

When Carlos Sainz and Giniel de Villiers also got stuck in the sand, they lost major time that allowed Stephane Peterhansel to win the stage and move up in the overall standings.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Stephane Peterhansel scored his 42nd career stage victory in a car by 3:26 over Nasser Al-Attiyah. … Still, given the struggles by Al-Attiyah in Stage 2, this was a notable rebound that allowed him to take over the overall lead. Jakub Przygonski rounded out the podium. … Carlos Sainz nearly lost his front after hitting a ditch about 23 miles into the stage and finished the stage 36th, more than four hours behind the leader; de Villiers finished 40th. Finishing just off the podium, Saudi Yazeed Al Rahji moved up to second overall. In four previous attempts in the Dakar, he has failed to finish twice. … Robby Gordon broke a differential and lost hours making repairs – finishing the stage 83rd. He now trails the overall leader by more than 14 hours.

“The rally is over for us,” Sainz said at Dakar.com. “We fell into a hole and broke the suspension. I’m sad and disappointed, but that’s the way it is. This is what happens in the Dakar.”

Overall: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 6:48 over Yazeed Al Rajhi and 7:03 over Peterhansel.

In motorcycles, Xavier de Soultrait became the third different rider to win the first three stages, but he did so by a whisker of only 15 seconds over Pablo Quintanilla. … Kevin Benavides finished third, which elevated him to second in the overall standings. … Matthias Walkner strayed off course and lost 21 minutes, which dropped him from second overall to eight. He trails Quintanilla by 21:14. … America’s Andrew Short finished 10th on the stage. … When Walkner lost his way, he took Ricky Brabec with him. Brabec finished 12th on the stage.

Overall: Quintanilla holds an advantage of 11:23 over Benavides and 12:12 over Sam Sunderland.

“It was difficult with the fog,” Sunderland said at Dakar.com. “For me, the road book was more or less good, but the problem was on the plateau, with the fog, you couldn’t see. This was the issue so … You really couldn’t see two/three meters in front of you. Finally, I stopped and took my goggles off and I was able to see a bit better. Yeah, a lot of chaos, after that everyone was in a group and everyone was going in front. But yeah, I’m sure we have many more days to come. This is the Dakar, it’s what it’s all about, tough times and up and downs, some carnage in the stage. Really, I just try to take each day as it comes … and try to avoid mistakes.”

In side by sides Gerard Farres Guell scored an easy victory over Francisco Lopez Contardo with an advantage of more than two minutes. … Sergei Kariakin finished 4:42 behind the leader. … Casey Currie finished 11 and half minutes back in fourth.

“Stage 3 was gnarly,” said Casey Currie in the daily highlight show on NBCSN. “The elevation changes in the beginning felt like we should be up where it should be snowing. We went on a really tight rocky road – single line all the way to the top of this mountain … and then we got into some nasty, soft sand. We just pushed all day.”

Overall: Contardo holds an advantage of 3:24 over Guell and 8:06 over Kariakin.

In quads, The top three drivers at the end of this stage are also the top contenders overall. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli scored his first stage win of 2019 and sits second in the overall. … Nicolas Cavigliasso’s second-place in the stage was enough the secure the overall lead with Gustavo Gallego rounding out the podium.

Overall: Cavigliasso holds an advantage of 29:52 over Ferioli and 30:20 over Gallego.

In trucks, Kamaz dominated the stage with a sweep of the top three. Andrey Karginov won after four hours, 26 minutes and 49 seconds. Dmitry Sotnikov and Eduard Nikolaev rounded out the top three. Federico Villagra took his Iveco for Team De Rooy to fourth.

Overall: Nikolaev holds an advantage of 8:25 over Sotnikov and 14:12 over Villagra.

Stage Wins

Motorcycles: [1] Joan Barreda (Stage 1) and [1] Matthias Walkner (Stage 2) and [1] Xavier de Soultrait (Stage 3)
Quads: [2] Nicolas Cavigliasso (Stage 1 and 2) and [1] Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (Stage 3)
Cars: [1] Nasser Al-Attiyah (Stage 1), [1] Sebastien Loeb (Stage 2) [1] Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 3)
Side-by-sides: [1] Reinaldo Varela (Stage 1), [1] Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 2) and [1] Gerard Farres Guell (Stage 3)
Trucks: (2) Eduard Nikolaev (Stage 1 and 2) and [1] Andrey Karginov (Stage 3)

For more watch the daily highlight show on NBCSN. Click here for the complete schedule.

Or check out the streaming show at 6:30-7 p.m. by clicking this link.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”