Dakar Stage 4 Highlights: Ricky Brabec wins stage, takes lead

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Ricky Brabec lost his way on Wednesday in Stage 3 of the Dakar Rally. Finishing 12th in that stage cost him and he was ranked seventh in the overall standings, but Brabec came roaring back in Stage 4. He won his first stage of the year by a margin of six minutes, 19 seconds over Matthias Walkner.

“I needed it,” Brabec said at Dakar.com. “Yesterday was tough on me and I lost a lot of time. Today I really, really needed to push with the marathon night and motocross start tomorrow. It kind of helps me because tomorrow I can kind of just hang back and have the stage under my control and finish where I want. With the motocross start it makes it easy to manage.”

Robby Gordon and his Team Speed teammates were originally listed as failing to start Stage 4 due to a clerical error. Gordon completed the stage 40th with a time of six hours, 28 minutes and 38 seconds. Blade Hildebrand is also still running. The third teammate Cole Potts is not racing in Stage 5, but is eligible to return.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Nasser Al-Attiyah has won at least two stages in nine of the past 10 Dakars. … Stephane Peterhansel finished close behind, but lost another 1:52 to the overall leader. … Jakub Przygonski rounded out the top three. … Sebastian Loeb suffered three punctures on the stage and was riding on a deflated tire at the end in fifth place. He lost 12:23 on the stage and now trails the overall leader Al-Attiyah by 50 minutes.

Overall: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 8:55 over Peterhansel and 20:51 over Nani Roma

In motorcycles, Ricky Brabec made up all the ground he lost in the last stage plus a lot more to win. … Matthias Walkner fell 6:19 behind with Toby Price ending the stage 7:07 back. … Sam Sunderland took a fall in the rock and lost 13:35 to Brabec, but still managed to finish fifth. … Pablo Quintanilla had a tough outing and finished 14th on the stage.

Overall: Ricky Brabec holds an advantage of 2:19 over Quintanilla and 4:22 over Price.

In side by sides Sergei Kariakin keeps improving. After finishing eighth in Stage 1, he has stood on the podium in each successive stage with thirds in Stage 2 and 3. This is his first win of the season. … Rodrigo Piazzoli and Gerard Farres Guell round out the top three. … Casey Currie had navigation issues and a puncture before finishing ninth in the stage.

Overall: Kariakin holds an advantage of 11:26 over Guell and 30:00 over Piazolli

In quads, Nicolas Cavigliasso won his third stage of the year and has not finished worse than second so far in 2019. … Twenty-three year old Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli finished second to score his third podium of the year. … Alexandre Giroud rounded out the top three.

Overall: Cavigliasso holds an advantage of 1:00 over Ferioli and 2:00 over Gustavo Gallego

In trucks, Andrey Karginov got off to a slow start with a sixth-place finish in Stage 1 and a seventh the following day; he’s won the last two stages to make up for that and sits second in the overall rankings. … Martin Macik and Airat Mardeev round out the top three. … Overall leader Eduard Nikolaev finished fifth in the stage and gave up more than 13 minutes to his closest challenger Karginov. … After a spectacular crash yesterday, Siarhei Viazovich powered on to finish fourth in the stage.

Overall: Nikolaev holds and advantage of 4:58 over Karginov and 8:39 over Dmitry Sotnikov

Stage Wins

Motorcycles
Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Matthias Walkner [1] (Stage 2), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3) and Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4)

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

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

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

Trucks
Eduard Nikolaev [2] (Stage 1 and 2) and Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4)

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

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Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).