Dakar Stage 1 Highlights: Zala takes surprise win as Alonso finishes 11th

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The 42nd edition of the Dakar Rally got underway Sunday with a total of 351 vehicles ready to contest a new route that will be held entirely within Saudi Arabia. 

In the cars class, defending race champion Nasser Al-Attiyah led the majority of the first stage, but suffered three tire punctures, leading to an upset victory by Mini driver Vaidotas Zala. Fellow Mini driver Stephane Peterhansel finished second, 2 minutes and 14 seconds behind.

Carlos Sainz made it a Mini 1-2-3 by finishing 2 minutes, 50 seconds behind Zala and Peterhansel, while Al-Attiyah had to settle for a fourth-place finish, 5 minutes, 33 seconds behind. 

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso finished 11th overall in his Dakar debut, 15 minutes and 27 seconds off the pace.

In bikes, defending champion Toby Price scored the stage win after taking first place from Ricky Brabec roughly halfway through the stage.

Brabec maintained the lead for approximately the first 100 kilometers before Price gained the lead. Price eventually won with a 2 minute, 5 second lead. 

Price’s teammate Matthias Walkner finished the stage in the third position, 2 minutes and 40 seconds behind.  

In side by sides, Aron Domzala won, beating American Casey Currie by 1 minute and 51 seconds. Jose Antonio Hinojo Lopez finished third, 5 minutes and 49 seconds back. 

In quads, Ignacio Casale won the first stage by a healthy margin of 5 minutes, 36 seconds, while Rafal Sonik finished second. Tomas Kubiena finished third, 6 minutes and 55 seconds behind.

In trucks, Anton Shibalov passed Kamaz teammate Andrey Karginov to take the opening stage victory by 1 minute, 33 seconds. 

Karginov had led through every waypoint before experiencing a setback within the final 100 kilometers, which caused him to finish seventh overall. 

Siarhei Viazovich finished second, while Janus Van Kasteren finished third, 3 minutes and 9 seconds behind. 

Highlights of Stage One will air on NBCSN on Monday, January 6 at 5:00 p.m. ET, with highlights of Stage Two airing immediately after at 5:30 p.m. ET. 

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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.