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Dakar Stage 8 Highlights: Serradori wins, Alonso second

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Monday’s stage of the Dakar Rally saw amateur driver Mathieu Serradori collect his first career victory, while fan-favorite Fernando Alonso finished second.

Only three of the five classes competed in the eighth stage of the event, as the motorbike and quad classes took the day off following the crash in Sunday’s stage 7 that lead to the death of motorbike rider Paulo Gonçalves. Both classes will return to action on Tuesday.

Here are some of Monday’s highlights:

In the cars class, Mathieu Serradori won his first stage, edging Fernando Alonso by 4:04.

Alonso’s second-place finish was his best yet in his rookie Dakar, and the two-time Formula One champion is now ranked 13th overall with four stages remaining.

Orlando Terranova finished the stage third-fastest, 6:19 behind, while Nasser Al-Attiyah finished 11th and narrowed his deficit to overall leader Carlos Sainz to just under seven minutes.

Sainz finished 15th overall, 19:15 behind Serradori.

Overall: Carlos Sainz holds an advantage of 6:40 over Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In side by sides, Mitch Guthrie set the quickest time in the stage, having rejoined the race under the ‘Dakar Experience’ category. However, Guthrie was assessed a penalty, giving the victory to Reinaldo Varela.

Varela finished 0:22 ahead of Francisco Lopez Contardo, while Austin Jones finished third, 7:21 back.

Overall: Casey Currie holds an advantage of 15:40 over Francisco Lopez Contardo.

In trucks, Andrey Karginov continued to race toward his second career Dakar victory by clinching his third consecutive stage win.

Karginov defeated teammate Anton Shibalov by 5:54, and now leads him by nearly a half an hour in the overall standings.

Ales Loprais finished third, 9:06 behind.

Overall: Andrey Karginov holds an advantage of 27:06 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), [1] Giniel De Villiers (Stage 2) and [1] Mathieu Serradori (Stage 8)

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] Mitch Guthrie (Stage 4),  [1] Cyril Despres (Stage 5), [1] Blade Hildebrand (Stage 7) and [1] Reinaldo Varela (Stage 8)

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: [4] Andrey Karginov (Stage 3, 6, 7 and 8), [2] Anton Shibalov (Stage 1 and 4), [1] Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 2) and [1] Dmitry Sotnikov (Stage 5)

Highlights of Stage 8 will air on NBCSN tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET.  The rally runs through Friday.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994