Dakar Stage 7 Highlights: Sainz extends overall lead, racers mourn death of one of their own

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Sunday’s stage 7 of the Dakar Rally was marred by the death of motorbike rider Paulo Gonçalves, who fell and suffered cardiac arrest roughly halfway through the stage. 

Riders Kevin Benavides and Toby Price stopped to assist Gonçalves, and a medical helicopter arrived at the scene within eight minutes, according to the event organizer’s website. Gonçalves was then airlifted to a hospital and subsequently pronounced dead.

Gonçalves was competing in his 13th Dakar. He was runner-up in 2015.

After a meeting with riders, Dakar officials made the decision to cancel Monday’s stage 8 for the motorbikes and quad classes in order to allow competitors to mourn the loss of their competitor and friend.

 

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Here are some of Sunday’s highlights:

In the cars class, Carlos Sainz collected his third win to extend his advantage over Nasser Al-Attiyah in the overall standings. 

Al-Attiyah and local driver Yasir Seaidan set the pace early on in the stage, but Sainz jumped ahead roughly halfway through and ended up beating Al-Attiyah by 2:12. Stephane Peterhansel finished third, 2:53 behind. 

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished sixth, finishing 7:49 behind Sainz. Alonso is now ranked 15th overall.

Overall: Carlos Sainz holds an advantage of 10:00 over Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In bikes, Kevin Benavides was awarded the victory after stopping to assist Paulo Gonçalves following the rider’s fatal crash.  

Joining Benavides were several other riders, including Toby Price and Stefan Svitko, all of whom were awarded time by race organizers for their efforts.

Following the time adjustments, Benavides won by 1:23 over Joan Barreda Bort. Matthias Walkner finished third, 4:17 behind. 

Overall: Ricky Brabec holds an advantage of 24:48 over Pablo Quintanilla.

In side by sides, Blade Hildebrand, who was competing under the ‘Dakar Experience’ rule due to a retirement in stage 2, defeated fellow American Casey Currie by a comfortable margin of 11:15. Stage 1 winner Aron Domzala finished third, 13:16 back. 

Overall: Casey Currie holds an advantage of 32:03 over Francisco Lopez Contardo.

In quads, Simon Viste picked up his second consecutive victory, beating Giovanni Enrico by a 0:11. Overall leader Ignacio Casale was third-fastest, finishing 1:31 behind.

Overall: Ignacio Casale holds an advantage of 36:43 over Simon Viste. 

In trucks, Andrey Karginov continued to dominate, narrowly edging out teammate Dmitry Sotnikov by 0:03 to claim his second consecutive stage victory and third overall. Anton Shibalov finished third, 2:05 back.

Overall: Andrey Karginov holds an advantage of 21:12 over Anton Shibalov.

Stage Wins:

Cars: [3] Carlos Sainz (Stage 3, 5, and 7), [2] Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 4 and 6), [1] Vaidotas Zala (Stage 1) and [1] Giniel De Villiers (Stage 2)

Bikes: [2] Toby Price (Stage 1 and 5), [2] Ricky Brabec (Stage 3 and 6), [1] Ross Branch (Stage 2), [1] Jose Ingacio Cornejo (Stage 4) and [1] Kevin Benavides (Stage 7)

Side-by-sides:  [2] Gerard Farres Guell (Stage 3 and 6), [1]  Aron Domzala (Stage 1), [1] Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 2), [1] Mitchell Guthrie (Stage 4),  [1] Cyril Despres (Stage 5) and [1] Blade Hildebrand (Stage 7)

Quads: [3] Ignacio Casale (Stage 1, 2, and 4), [2] Simon Viste (Stage 6 and 7), [1] Giovanni Enrico (Stage 3) and [1] Romain Dutu (Stage 5)

Trucks: [3] Andrey Karginov (Stage 3, 6, and 7), [2] Anton Shibalov (Stage 1 and 4), [1] Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 2) and [1] Dmitry Sotnikov (Stage 5)

Highlights of Stage 7 will air on NBCSN tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET.  The rally runs through Jan. 17.

Charlie Kimball joins A.J. Foyt Racing; Tony Kanaan expected back

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A.J. Foyt has hired Charlie Kimball to drive its No. 4 Chevrolet in the 2020 NTT IndyCar season.

Kimball will return to a full-time schedule after seven races last season with Carlin Racing. This will mark his 10th consecutive season of driving in IndyCar. In 141 starts, he has one victory (in 2013 at Mid-Ohio).

“I wouldn’t have survived another partial schedule, and I’m not sure my marriage would have survived,” Kimball said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “It was really tough watching in races when I wasn’t in the car. The consistency allows me to stay in the rhythm.”

A.J. Foyt Racing fielded cars last year for Matheus Leist in the No. 4 and Tony Kanaan in the No. 14. Team president Larry Foyt told reporters that the No. 14 car’s 2020 schedule was “a work in progress and hopefully have some news on that in the next few weeks.”

Asked if Kanaan, who has driven for Foyt since 2018, still will be with the team, Foyt said, “I’m sure he will. We’ve been working together and getting everything buttoned up.”

Here’s the full release from A.J. Foyt Racing:

Veteran IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball joins AJ Foyt Racing as the full-time driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet with backing from his long-time sponsor Novo Nordisk. The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season marks Kimball’s 10th consecutive season in IndyCar and his 12th season of partnership with the global healthcare company.

Kimball, who ran a partial season of seven races in 2019, returns as a full-time driver in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series this year. The No. 4 car will carry a Novo Nordisk branded livery in the following races: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, GMR Grand Prix (Indianapolis), Texas Indy 600 (Ft. Worth), Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Novo Nordisk will be an associate marketing partner in the remaining 11 races.

“I’m excited and honored to join AJ Foyt Racing and be a part of a team that has such deep roots in history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar,” said Kimball, who lives in Indianapolis. “Continuing the partnership with Novo Nordisk is also special since they have been an integral part of my career since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I’m more motivated than ever to work with the team to succeed at every IndyCar race in 2020. Thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, Novo Nordisk and our other partners for this opportunity.”

Team President Larry Foyt expects the partnership with Novo Nordisk and the addition of Charlie Kimball, an IndyCar Series race winner at Mid-Ohio (2013) and a pole winner at Texas Motor Speedway (2017), to invigorate his No. 4 Texas-based team this season.

“Charlie brings a great deal of experience and skill to the team,” Foyt said. “He is motivated to show what he can do behind the wheel, and his recent experience of helping develop cars will be beneficial as we work to get the 4 car moving up the grid. Novo Nordisk has been a long-time supporter of Charlie and IndyCar. We want to welcome them to AJ Foyt Racing and we look forward to joining them in their effort to increase the awareness of diabetes.”

Kimball has posted six podium (top-3) finishes, and an additional eight top-5s. He has finished in the top-10 (6th through 10th) 41 times and has led 163 laps in 141 races.

“We are proud to continue our long-term partnership with Charlie Kimball and look forward to an exciting 2020 IndyCar season with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing,” said Brian Hilberdink, Senior Vice President, Commercial Diabetes at Novo Nordisk. “For more than a decade, we’ve utilized our involvement in IndyCar to share Charlie’s inspiring journey living with diabetes through the Race with Insulin initiative. Charlie is one of the most active ambassadors in the diabetes community and his passion and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those who are living with diabetes is unwavering. We look forward to continuing this tradition with AJ Foyt Racing, Charlie and the diabetes community throughout the IndyCar season.”

Foyt expects to make further announcements regarding new primary sponsors for the team in the near future.