Dakar Rally 2022, Day 3: Solid results for U.S. drivers and riders in the desert

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Led by Seth Quintero’s stage victory in the light prototype class, drivers and riders racing under the U.S. banner had a strong Day 3 of the 2022 Dakar Rally.

Quintero rebounded Tuesday for his third stage victory this year during the endurance classic in Saudi Arabia. A broken differential during the second stage had knocked the American from the overall lead and a shot at title contention after winning the prologue and first stage.

Despite the victory, Quintero still is ranked 25th and nearly 17 hours off the overall lead because of Monday’s time losses. At 19, he was trying to become the youngest Dakar Rally winner in history.

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“For sure, it’s definitely been quite a Dakar,” Quintero said. “We’ve got three wins out of the four stages that we’ve done, which is awesome, but unfortunately, we’re very far down on the overall. Last night we got back to the bivouac at about four o’clock in the morning and hit the road at 8 a.m. and here we are with a stage win by about six minutes.

“We couldn’t have had a better day and we’re going to keep on chugging along and grab some more wins. It is definitely difficult to keep the motivation going knowing that we are out of the overall classification, but we’re just going to try and score some championship points and keep moving. We’re just going to try and keep ticking off the wins and hopefully we can grab a few more.”

The best American hope for a class victory now might be Austin Jones, who remained the overall leader by over 5 minutes in SSV after a fourth-place finish Tuesday in the 636-kilometer segment around Al Qaysumah.

In the bike division, American riders had their best showing of the 2022 Dakar Rally. Mason Klein finished third Tuesday, just over a minute behind stage winner Joaquim Rodrigues and the first of four Americans in the top eight. Skyler Howes took fourth, followed by former Supercross star Andrew Short (sixth) and 2020 Dakar winner Ricky Brabec (seventh).

Howes, who has moved to Husqvarna Factory Racing this year after strong showings as a privateer, is ranked fourth overall and just under 4 minutes behind Sam Sunderland.

“Today was the first time that in my life that I’ve opened the track on the Dakar rally,” Howes said. “It was a cool feeling, and I’m super proud of the way I navigated. It wasn’t exactly perfect, but I did a pretty good job. I started fourth on the track and I crossed the line physically first, so yes, this was a really cool day. There were some tricky notes out there, some hidden waypoints that were difficult to find, but luckily we got them all and reached the finishing line safely.

“I wouldn’t say I pushed to the maximum today. I rode what I thought was a comfortable pace, though the pace is really high now on the Dakar, it’s almost like a sprint race. So, if you don’t push every day you’re going to be off the pace. So, today I rode fairly conservatively but still within my means. I’m proud of it. It’s really cool to be on the pace. I mean, last year I was on a rental bike as a privateer and now I’m here on a factory Husqvarna competing against the best in the world so it’s really cool.”

In the Quad category, Pablo Copetti, an Argentine who races under the U.S. banner, maintained his overall lead with a Stage 3 victory.

Nasser Al-Attiyah continued to hold the overall lead of the 2022 Dakar Rally in the cars division over Sebastien Loeb (who lost more than 30 minutes with a mechanical failure that left him with two-wheel drive). Three-time event winner Carlos Sainz scored the first stage victory Tuesday (and the 40th of his career) in an Audi RS Q e-Tron.

“For sure, I’m disappointed,” Loeb said. “I’m happy to be at the end of the stage losing only 33 minutes – it could have been even worse, but that’s like it is. The fight with Nasser will be very difficult. He is far in front.”

Al-Attiyah said he drove more cautiously after Loeb struggled.

“I think Seb had a problem with the car and we just tried to take it easy without any risks,” Al-Attiyah said. “I’m quite happy to finish the stage without any problems. This will be good (as Wednesday) is a very long stage. I think we need to be really careful on the long stages.

“Today was a good day for us. I wasn’t surprised to be caught by Carlos because I was going very slowly. It was not a surprise because my main target is Sébastien Loeb not Carlos Sainz. I don’t need to fight with Carlos because he is too far from us.”

There are nine stages remaining in the race.

Here are the top three in each category after Day 3:

Car

Stage 3 winner: Carlos Sainz (ESP), 2:26:51. Overall: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 9:31:22; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 10:09:02; 3. Lucio Alvarez (ARG), Overdrive Toyota, 10:13:28.

Bike

Stage 3 winner: Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT), 2:34:41. Overall: 1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GasGas Factory Racing, 11:13:40; 2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 11:13:44; 3. Matthias Walkner (AUS), GasGas Factory Racing, 11:15:10. Other U.S. notables: 4. Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing, 11:17:35; 13. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 11:39:55; 16. Andrew Short, Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 11:45:45; 20. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 12:04:19.

Truck

Stage 3 winner: Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), 2:43:25. Overall: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 10:42:32; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 10:54:17; 3. Andrey Karginov (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 11:02:16.

Light prototype

Stage 3 winner: Seth Quintero (USA), 2:52:23. Overall: 1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS — South Racing, 11:27:54; 2. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS — South Racing, 11:37:03; 3. Pavel Lebedev (RAF) MSK Rally Team, 11:54:59.

SSV

Stage 3 winner: Marek Goczal (POL), 2:58:46. Overall: 1. Austin Jones (USA), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 11:53:53; 2. Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira (BRA), South Racing Can-Am, 11:59:16; Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) 12:07:57.

Quad

Stage 3 winner: Pablo Copetti (USA) 3:12:48. Overall: 1. Pablo Copetti (USA), Del Amo Motorsports/Yamaha Rally Team, 14:10:56; 2. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing – SMX -Drag’on, 14:26:25; 3. Aleksandir Maksimov (RAF), Chyr Mari, 14:40:08.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”