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.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.