Dakar Stage 10 Highlights: Sainz extends lead; Alonso rolls twice but continues on

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Heavy wind gusts may have shortened the Haradh – Shubaytah stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally, but there still was plenty of action, including a wild double rollover by Fernando Alonso.

Here are some of Wednesday’s highlights:

In the cars class, Carlos Sainz was able to rebuild his commanding lead over Nasser Al-Attiyah, which was shortened to a mere 0:24 at the end of Tuesday’s Stage 9.

Al-Attiyah became lost when trying to find the final checkpoint, surrendering nearly 15 minutes. The defending Dakar champion finished the stage in 17th place.

Jakub Przygonski ended the shortened stage second-fastest, 3:05 behind, while Giniel De Villers finished third, 4:26 back.

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished a disappointing 56th after suffering a double rollover just two kilometers into the stage.

Though not injured in the rollover, Alonso lost a significant amount of time as he and co-driver Marc Coma removed the windscreen from their Toyota.

The duo rolled across the finish line over an hour behind Sainz, and now have dropped from 10th to 14th in the overall standings.

Overall: Carlos Sainz holds an advantage of 18:10 over Nasser Al-Attiyah.

In bikes, Joan Barreda Bort was gifted with the victory when the stage ended prematurely at the 345 km mark due to heavy winds.  Meanwhile, overall leader Ricky Brabec finished the stage in second position, 1:07 back, while Kevin Benavides finished third, 2:31 back.

Overall: Ricky Brabec holds an advantage of 25:44 over Pablo Quintanilla.

In side by sides, Mitch Guthrie and Blade Hildebrand finished 1-2 for the second consecutive stage, with Hildebrand coming in 0:25 behind Guthrie. Stage 3 and 6 winner Gerard Farres Guell completed the podium in third, 1:22 back.

Casey Currie came home in seventh position, but continued to build a considerable lead in the overall standings. However, defending champion Francisco Lopez Contardo dropped from second to third overall when he suffered tire puncture that saw him lose over an hour’s time.

Overall: Casey Currie holds an advantage of 46:40 over Sergei Kariakin.

In quads, Kamil Wisinewski topped the charts, finishing 0:48 ahead of Zdenek Tuma, while Rafal Sonik finished 3:42 behind in third.

Overall leader Ignacio Casale had a disappointing day, finishing 16th out of 18 competitors. As a result, his lead over second place shrank by over 25 minutes.

Fortunately for Casale, second-place Simon Viste had a bad day as well, as the Frenchman finished 12th.

Overall: Ignacio Casale holds an advantage of 16:18 over Simon Viste.

In trucks, Anton Shibalov ended Kamaz teammate Andrey Karginov’s streak of four consecutive stage wins, outpacing Dmitry Sotnikov by 1:08 to the 223 km checkpoint.

However, Shibalov’s efforts were only enough to erase approximately two minutes from Karginov’s considerable lead in the overall standings.

Eduard Nikolaev finished third, 1:30 back.

Overall: Andrey Karginov holds an advantage of 36:08 over Anton Shibalov.

Stage Wins:

Cars: [4] Carlos Sainz (Stage 3, 5, 7 and 10), [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), [1] Pablo Quintanilla (Stage 9) and [1] Joan Barreda Bort (Stage 10)

Side-by-sides: [2] Gerard Farres Guell (Stage 3 and 6), [2] Blade Hildebrand (Stage 7 and 9), [2] Mitch Guthrie (Stage 4 and 10), [1] Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 2), [1]  Aron Domzala (Stage 1), [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), [1] Romain Dutu (Stage 5) and [1] Kamil Wisinewski (Stage 10)

Trucks: [5] Andrey Karginov (Stage 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9), [3] Anton Shibalov (Stage 1, 4 and 10), [1] Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 2) and [1] Dmitry Sotnikov (Stage 5)

Highlights of Stage 10 will air on NBCSN tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET.  The rally runs through Friday.

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Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds