There was a minimal amount of racing this weekend, but the season is just about to crank out to full power shortly. We’ve seen our first 24 hour endurance race of the year, Dakar has rolled in to the finish line, and the midget sprint race major event was this weekend as well. There’s some pretty big breaking news this morning, and we’ll cover all of the other news you need to know from last week. If the supposed “off-season” is any indication, 2017 will have some pretty righteous racing this year. Check it out!
Read along to see what good stuff happened this weekend. Summer is winding down a bit, and the racing is running to the end of the championships, so we’ll do our best to help keep your finger on the pulse. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers! Oh, and be sure to tune in to The DFL Show, our racing podcast, every Thursday at 7:30 AM here on Hooniverse.
Mercedes Replaces Rosberg
Dakar Finds The End Of The Earth
The Chili Bowl Is Chilly
24 Hours In Dubai
Things You Should Read
Things You Should Watch
When we left you last week, it was Stephane Peterhansel leading during the rest day, and fighting the rainy weather better than anyone else, apparently, with Seb Loeb just over a minute behind.
Day 8 – Following the cancelled stages on Saturday and Sunday’s rest day, the weather wasn’t letting up, so organizers made a new route for Monday’s Stage 7. There was a total of 640 transit kilometers, and the timed stage itself was 161 kilometers long, combining bits of the original stage 6 with the planned stage 7. Both Peterhansel and Loeb appeared to enjoy the sand as things started to dry out, with Stephane finishing ahead of Seb by less than a minute, slightly stretching his lead. Giniel de Villiers climbed into third position on the day, pulling his Toyota up into 6th overall, and Nani Roma’s Toyota leapfrogged Cyril Despres’ Peugeot into third overall.
Day 9 – Stage 8 saw another course correction to avoid a flooded river basin thanks to all of the rain in the area. The stage’s overall length was shortened by 45 miles, but it was still a hell of a test on the drivers. Loeb found a ton of speed on Day 9, storming to a massive 3 minute lead over Peterhansel and Despres, completing a Peugeot 1-2-3. This allowed Loeb to pull up into the overall lead of Dakar again, and shoved Nani Roma’s Toyota back down into 4th in the standings.
Day 10 – Stage 9 of the rally was again abandoned, this time due to huge landslides that wiped out many of the area’s passable areas. Bolivia and Northern Argentina experienced some of the worst floods they’ve seen in decades.
Day 11 – Stage 10 was a run from Chilecito to San Juan in Argentina, and required the navigators to really be on their marks more than normal. At the end of the day it seemed to be Loeb with another stage win, but Peterhansel was presented with a time adjustment for assisting a fellow competitor after they’d collided. Peterhansel’s 7 lost minutes, then, were reinstated and he came out victorious on the stage, again leapfrogging Loeb in the overall standings. Mikko Hirvonen suffered a broken radiator, and later got stuck in some sort of ravine for about 3 hours.
Day 12 – Stage 11 featured about 50 kilometers of wide open dune racing, followed by a few bits of the Rally Argentina WRC course in the fast and slidey terrain. This stage was, in fact won by Seb Loeb over Stephane Peterhansel. This time, however, Peterhansel retained his lead in the overall standings by finishing just 18 seconds behind Loeb.
Day 13 – The final day of the rally opened in Rio Cuarto, and the teams saddled up to tackle the route to Buenos Aires. The final stage of the rally was won by Sebastien Loeb, and again Peterhansel was right on his tail just 19 seconds behind this time. After almost 30 hours of timed stage racing, Loeb trailed Peterhansel at the finish by just five minutes and 13 seconds. Cyril Despres brought in a Peugeot 1-2-3 final tally, just under half-an-hour behind Loeb. Toyota’s best finisher, Nani Roma, finished on almost 30 hours exactly, some hour and 16 minutes behind Peterhansel.
This was Peterhansel’s 13th Dakar Rally victory, and his 7th overall victory on 4 wheels. There’s a reason he’s known as Mr. Dakar.
The 24 Hours of Dubai
On a warm, windy, and sandy January day in Dubai, a 24 hour race was run, and it was won by an innocuous white Porsche. There is something of a legend about a Porsche painted white that they just seem to run around trouble-free and without contact. They’re always overlooked, and often disregarded, but at the end of the race, they’re in the lead.
For this event, pretty much every manufacturer sent a few of their major drivers to take on the first 24 hour endurance race of the season. Held by Creventic, the Dubai 24 is an oddball race. It always attracts a decent grid, but this year seemingly better than ever. Big names everywhere, and they were in top-flight GT3 machinery, as well.
Black Falcon’s Mercedes qualified on pole, and led the first hour with Jeroen Bleekemolen at the wheel. Through the overnight section of the race, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche and the Manthey Racing Porsche exchanged the lead. In hour 16, the Manthey car suffered damage and dropped back a few laps, though later in the race, strong stints from Sven Muller and Matteo Cairoli moved the car back up into second place. Just before daybreak, Khaled Al-Qubaisi crashed the #2 Black Falcon Mercedes, taking them out of contention.
The Herberth Porsche of Brendon Hartley, Robert & Alfred Renauer, Ralf Bohn, and Daniel Allemann ran the race completely trouble free, ultimately finishing the race some 2 laps clear of second place. This was Hartley’s first 24-hour endurance race victory. In second was the Muller, Cairoli, Otto Klohs, and Jochen Krumbach driven Manthey Porsche, and behind them the other Black Falcon Merc of Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Michael Broniszewski, Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel, and Hubert Haupt.
The Chili Bowl
After back-to-back victories by Rico Abreau in what is probably the biggest sprint midget race in the world, Kunz Motorsport won their third in a row on Saturday night with Christopher Bell. Chris finished third in last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, and has proved himself worthy on both pavement and dirt. Between all of the heats and the final, a total of 365 cars raced this weekend, and Bell came out on top of all of them.
24-year-old Oklahoma native Christopher Bell on his victory:
“I came here for so long as a kid and sat in these grandstands and then I started racing here and getting opportunities to get it done but never could. I always attacked and attacked but it never worked because I got into trouble and took myself out. So tonight, I ran hard enough to stay out of trouble early and then made my move. It’s a long time coming and a dream come true.”
Bottas Confirmed At Mercedes
Mercedes has finally announced Valtteri Bottas as their replacement to partner with Lewis Hamilton, following Nico Rosberg’s retirement from racing after winning the 2016 championship.
This move left Williams without a driver, as Bottas had been released from his contract. Williams, then, decided to rescind Felipe Massa’s retirement to put him back in the car for just the 2017 season.
This shuffle also sees Pascal Wehrlein moving over to Sauber from Manor.
Things You Should Read
Carl Edwards is retiring from NASCAR, and he sites driver safety as one of his reasons.
Williams may be getting technical whiz Paddy Lowe from Mercedes in exchange for Bottas.
Check out this gathering of gorgeous Dakar photos
Racer says now is time for Hulkenberg to shine
Manor LMP1 team shaping up with Ginetta in 2018
Magnus Racing join Pirelli World Challenge with pair of Audi R8s
Panoz confirms Ian James to drive “Avezzano” GT4 in PWC GTS
Porsche Not Effing Around, Factory-backed effort for Bathurst 12H
Ex-Audi Oliver Jarvis signed to Bentley GT3 effort
Chili Bowl on the cheap!
Check out this rally Porsche onboard
Racecar Engineering gives some details on the Riley-Multimatic and Dallara LMP2 chassis.
Things You Should Watch
Here’s Le Mans and Pikes Peak winner Romain Dumas stopping to help a rolled competitor in the Dakar rally. What a champ!
PWC just added pretty much the entire 2016 season to their YouTube channel. Here’s the finale from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca!
Here’s an in-car video from Daytona!
In other news, MillerCoors is now “The Official Beer & Cider Of Indycar”
[Sources: Red Bull Motorsport, Motorsport.com, IMSA.com, Sportscar365, DailySportsCar, BlackFlag, TheDrive, Racecar Engineering & YouTube]