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.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”