Dakar Rally 2022, Stage 12: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins fourth overall; Austin Jones takes SSV

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Nasser Al-Attiyah captured his fourth Dakar Rally championship while Austin Jones became the youngest American to win an overall class title as the 2022 rally ended Friday with Stage 12.

Al-Attiyah finished 19th in the final stage but still nearly 28 minutes ahead of Sebastien Loeb to win a rally that the Qatar native controlled virtually from winning the opening stage.

It was an incredible Dakar for us,” Al-Attiyah, who won for the first time in Saudi Arabia with his first Dakar Rally title since 2019, said on the Dakar website. “We’re pleased with the new T1+ regulations. There were three solid teams capable of winning. (Co-driver) Matthieu (Baumel) and I, the team, we all did a good job to win. We had finished second every time since we came to Saudi Arabia, now we’re really happy to achieve our goal.

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“Toyota Gazoo Racing did a fantastic job in the span of a year by building this new car. The whole race went without a hitch. We were on high alert, but now we know that we have an amazing car and we will do our best for the world championship. We opened up a gap on the first day and have since managed our lead. We’re really happy, and I reckon we’ll start thinking of the next Dakar in a week or ten days.”

Jones, 25, overcame a 1-minute, 41-second deficit in the final stage to secure the SSV overall victory with consistent results (and without a stage win).

After experiencing transmission problems in Stage 11, the Can-Am Factory South Racing driver finished third in the final stage, more than 4 minutes ahead of runner-up teammate Gerard Farres Guell, who suffered mechanical woes.

“I told you that would happen, that it was going to come down to the very end, and that’s exactly what it did,” Jones said. “We had a pretty clean day today. I drove as hard as I could, we got a couple of mistakes here and there, but overall, obviously, we got it done, and we made it. This is crazy. Shout out to my navigator Gustavo Gugelmin, who for 13 days straight has been great. The whole team, South Racing, Scott … it takes the whole team.

“I just knew what we had to do, we had a goal, and we went for it. It means everything. This is what we’ve trained (to do) for three years now. It’s the goal of any rally race. To get it done on the last day like this is a perfect ending to a really great story.”

Jones, who finished second in SSV in the 2021 Dakar, joined Ricky Brabec and Casey Currie on the list of American champions at Dakar.

In Stage 12 of the light prototype division, Seth Quintero extended a record with his 12th victory (and 10th consecutive) in the 2022 Dakar Rally. The American finished 15th overall in the category because of a mechanical failure in Stage 2 that left him nearly 15 hours off the lead.

In the bike division, 2020 champion Ricky Brabec finished second to Pablo Quintanilla in the final stage for a seventh overall ahead of fellow Americans Andrew Short and Mason Klein.

Other overall champions: Sam Sunderland (bike), Dmitry Sotnikov (truck), Francisco Lopez Contardo (light prototype) and Alexandre Giroud (quad).

The 2022 Dakar Rally ended with a somber note on Stage 12 as organizers announced that Quentin Lavalee died in an assistance vehicle accident with a local truck. A 20-year-old Frenchman, Lavalee was the chief mechanic for the PH Sport team in the Dakar Classic category.

Here are the stage winners and the final top three overall in each category after Stage 12 of the 2022 Dakar Rally:

Car

Stage 12 winner: Henk Lategan (ZAF), 1:35:19. Overall: 1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Toyota Gazoo Racing, 38:33:03; 2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Bahrain Raid Extreme, 39:00:49; 3. Yazeed Al Rajhi (SAU), Overdrive Toyota, 39:34:16.

Bike

Stage 12 winner: Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), 1:40:00; Overall: 1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GasGas Factory Racing, 38:47:30; 2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Monster Energy Honda, 38:50:57; 3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 38:54:17. Other U.S. notables: 7. Ricky Brabec, Monster Energy Honda, 39:33:34; 8. Andrew Short, Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, 39:33:38; 9. Mason Klein, BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team, 39:36:37. Withdrew: Skyler Howes, Husqvarna Factory Racing.

Truck

Stage 12 winner: Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), 1:42:41. Overall: 1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RAF), Kamaz-Master 41:37:34; 2. Eduard Nikolaev (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 41:47:32; 3. Anton Shibalov (RAF), Kamaz-Master, 42:48:45.

Light prototype

Stage 12 winner: Seth Quintero (USA), 1:48:46. Overall: 1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL), EKS — South Racing, 45:50:51; 2. Sebastian Eriksson (SWE), EKS — South Racing, 46:42:19; 3. Cristina Gutierrez Herrero (ESP), Red Bull Off-Road Team USA, 50:25:34. Notable: 15. Seth Quintero (USA), Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team USA, 60:29:12.

SSV

Stage 12 winner: Rokas Baciuska (LTU), 1:51:15. Overall: 1. Austin Jones (USA), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 47:22:50; 2. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), Can-Am Factory South Racing, 47:25:27; 3. Rokas Baciuska (LTU), South Racing Can-Am, 47:38:08.

Quad

Stage 12 winner: Francisco Moreno (ARG), 2:14:13. Overall: 1. Alexandre Giroud (FRA), Yamaha Racing – SMX -Drag’on, 50:00:51; 2. Francisco Moreno (ARG), Drag’on Rally Team, 52:22:02; 3. Kamil Wisniewski (POL), Orlen Team, 52:28:16.


PAST RECAPS

DAY 1Nasser Al-Attiyah takes overall lead as Audi drivers struggle

DAY 2Sebastien Loeb wins; Austin Jones takes SSV lead

DAY 3Led by Seth Quintero’s rebound victory, U.S. drivers and riders shine

DAY 4Overall leader Nasser Al-Attiyah wins stage after penalty

DAY 5Petrucci becomes first MotoGP veteran to win bike stage at Dakar

DAY 6Quintero continues impressive win streak in lightweight prototype

DAY 7Loeb wins in overall; Jones retakes SSV lead

DAY 8DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom wins first stage

DAY 9: Americans charging as Seth Quintero nears win record

DAY 10: Quintero ties record; Peterhansel wins for Audi

DAY 11: Record broken by Quintero with 11th stage victory

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”