Dakar Rally, Stage 4: Another new leader atop bikes; Al-Attiyah wins third straight in cars


The bikes division of the 2021 Dakar Rally remained a revolving leaderboard Wednesday as Xavier de Soultrait took a 15-second overall lead over Joan Barreda, who won a lengthy Stage 4.

A new rider has led the bike division after each of the first four stages. Toby Price led after winning Stage 1; Barreda was first after a Stage 2 victory, and Skyler Howes had led after Stage 3.

Howes slipped Wednesday to fifth overall (5 minutes, 26 seconds behind Soultrait) after the American privateer finished 20th in an 813-kilometer stretch from Wadi Al Dawasir to Riyadh.

In an Instagram post, Howes wrote that he had navigation trouble after a decent start. After losing time while running in circles to regain the route, Howes said he had a crash in the dunes but rebounded to go “full gas all the way to the finish.

HOW TO WATCH ON NBCSN: Information, schedules for the Dakar Rally

“Bit of an up and down day, but the overall isn’t looking bad with plenty of racing left,” Howes posted after the fourth of 12 stages.

The top five in the bike division entering Stage 5 are Soultrait (who finished fifth Wednesday), Bort (two stage victories), Ross Branch, Kevin Benavides and Howes.

Price, a two-time Dakar winner, is eighth overall after a 22nd in Stage 4.

Defending bikes winner Ricky Brabec finished 18th in Stage 4 and is 15th overall, 16 minutes and 21 seconds out of the lead.

The American, who had struggled in Stages 1 and 3 after starting toward the front because of his strong finishes in previous stages, posted on Instagram that “after a few hard thoughts yesterday, last night, this morning, we decided to sit back” in explaining his strategy Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to lose a lot of time today, but I didn’t want to make a lot of time,” Brabec said in an interview after Stage 4. “I just want to get the potential riders that can win this thing into one group, so that we can manage the race.”

In other divisions Wednesday:

Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah scored his third consecutive stage victory, beating Stephane Peterhansel by 11 seconds. Hank Lategan finished third.

“It’s been difficult in these early stages to make a big difference, but I’m happy,” Al-Attiyah said.

Peterhansel, a 13-time Dakar champion, maintained an overall lead of nearly 5 minutes over Al-Attiyah.

“It felt risky to be so close to the maximum all day,” Peterhansel said.

Defending winner Carlos Sainz was third (36 minutes, 19 seconds behind) after a fifth in the stage. Sebastien Loeb was fourth overall (48 minutes, 14 seconds behind) after a fourth in Stage 4.

Side by sides/lightweight prototypes: Francisco Lopez Contardo led side by sides  by 3 minutes, 18 seconds over Aron Domzala, who won Stage 4.

Seth Quintero led teammate Cristina Gutierez Herrero in the lightweight prototypes.

Quads: Nicolas Cavigliasso, who finished second to Manuel Andujar in Stage 4, led the overall over Alexandre Giroud.

Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov maintained a 26-minute lead after his third stage victory.

STAGE 1 RESULTSCarlos Sainz, Toby Price open with victories

STAGE 2Ricky Brabec jumps to second; Andrew Short withdraws

STAGE 3: American privateer Skyler Howes takes lead


Cars: Nasser Al-Attiyah 3 (Stages 2, 3, 4); Carlos Sainz (Stage 1),

Bikes: Toby Price 2 (Stages 1, 3); Joan Barreda 2 (Stage 2, 4)

Side-by-sides: Austin Jones (Stage 1); Saleh Alsaif (Stage 2); Francisco Lopez Contardo (Stage 3); Aron Domzala (Stage 4)

Lightweight prototypes: Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (Stage 1); Seth Quintero 2 (Stage 2, 3); Kris Meeke (Stage 4)

Quads: Alexandre Giroud (Stage 1); Pablo Copetti (Stage 2); Nicolas Cavigliasso (Stage 3), Manuel Andujar (Stage 4)

Trucks: Dmitry Sotnikov 3 (Stage 1, 2, 4); Siarhei Viazovich (Stage 3)

Watch highlights from Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET today.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)