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Dakar Stage 9 Highlights: Sainz’s lead down to 24 seconds over Al-Attiyah

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While stage 9 of the Dakar Rally saw the overall leaders in the motorbike, SxS, quad and truck classes continue to build on or maintain healthy advantages, Carlos Sainz’s lead in the cars category has nearly been erased.

Here are some of Tuesday’s highlights:

In the cars class, Stephane Peterhansel collected his third stage victory, as Nasser Al-Attiyah closed in on overall leader Carlos Sainz.

Al-Attiyah finished 0:15 behind Peterhansel, narrowing his overall deficit to a mire 0:24 behind Sainz.

Both Peterhansel and Al-Attiyah remained up front for the majority of the stage, with the duo finishing first and second at nearly every waypoint. A combination of a navigation error and lost tread on a tire caused Sainz to finish fifth, 6:31 behind Peterhansel.

Dakar rookie Fernando Alonso had another strong outing, finishing 13:03 behind in ninth place. The two-time Formula One champion is now ranked 10th overall.

Overall: Carlos Sainz holds an advantage of 0:24 over Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In bikes, Pablo Quintanilla took his first stage win of the 2020 rally, erasing just under four minutes in his overall deficit to Ricky Brabec.

Toby Price finished second, 1:54 back, while Joan Barreda Bort held on to finish third despite a small crash.

Overall: Ricky Brabec holds an advantage of 20:53 over Pablo Quintanilla.

In side by sides, Casey Currie continued to race towards his maiden Dakar victory, extending his lead in the overall standings to over 23 minutes.

Currie finished Tuesday’s stage in the third position, finishing behind fellow Americans Blade Hildebrand and Mitch Guthrie, both of whom are competing in the ‘Dakar Experience’ category following previous retirements earlier on in the rally.

Overall: Casey Currie holds an advantage of 23:37 over Francisco Lopez Contardo.

In quads, Ignacio Casale narrowly won by 0:03 over Giovanni Enrico. The victory is Casale’s fourth of the rally, and he now leads the overall standings by nearly 45 minutes.

Tomas Kubiena finished in the third position, 6:27 behind, while Casale’s closest title rival Simon Viste finished sixth, 8:14 back.

Overall: Ignacio Casale holds an advantage of 44:57 over Simon Viste.

In trucks, Kamaz driver Andrey Karginov won his fourth consecutive stage, finishing 3:19 ahead of second-place Siarhei Viazovich. Karginov now leads the overall standings by nearly 40 minutes.

Eduard Nikolaev finished third, 9:24 behind.

Overall: Andrey Karginov holds an advantage of 38:35 over Anton Shibalov.

Stage Wins:

Cars: [3] Carlos Sainz (Stage 3, 5, and 7), [3] Stephane Peterhansel (Stage 4, 6 and 9), [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), [1] Kevin Benavides (Stage 7) and [1] Pablo Quintanilla (Stage 9)

Side-by-sides: [2] Gerard Farres Guell (Stage 3 and 6), [2] Blade Hildebrand (Stage 7 and 9), [1] Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 2), [1]  Aron Domzala (Stage 1), [1] Mitch Guthrie (Stage 4),  [1] Cyril Despres (Stage 5) and [1] Reinaldo Varela (Stage 8)

Quads: [4] Ignacio Casale (Stage 1, 2, 4 and 9), [2] Simon Viste (Stage 6 and 7), [1] Giovanni Enrico (Stage 3) and [1] Romain Dutu (Stage 5)

Trucks: [5] Andrey Karginov (Stage 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9), [2] Anton Shibalov (Stage 1 and 4), [1] Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 2) and [1] Dmitry Sotnikov (Stage 5)

Highlights of Stage 9 will air on NBCSN tonight at 5:30 p.m. ET.  The rally runs through Friday.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter

Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter