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.

McLaren F1 drivers and senior management agree to pay cuts

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McLaren Formula One drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris are taking pay cuts, while the team is furloughing other employees as part of protective cost-cutting during the coronavirus pandemic.

With F1 racing suspended, McLaren said both drivers and senior management, including chief executive Zak Brown, all agreed to voluntary pay decreases. No figure was given, but McLaren said the percentage of the cut is the same for all employees who are not furloughed.

McLaren said in an email that “these measures are focused on protecting jobs in the short term to ensure our employees return to full-time work as the economy recovers.”

Sainz Jr. tweeted his support, saying “I fully understand these tough decisions and I have obviously decided to take a pay cut. We are all in this together.”

The first eight races of the 22-race campaign have been called off because of the virus. The season-opening Australian GP and the showpiece Monaco GP have been canceled, while the others might be rescheduled.

There is no date set for when the season might start, with the Canadian GP the next scheduled race on the disrupted calendar on June 14.

The season is scheduled to finish with the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 29, but F1 organizers previously said they anticipated that “the season end date will extend beyond our original end date.”

To further save costs and potentially gain time, engine manufacturers and teams are observing a three-week factory shutdown period. It normally would have been two weeks and would have taken place during the midseason summer break.