Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Loeb Takes Dakar Lead With Stage Two Victory

Through two days of the 2017 Dakar Rally, a French legend is on top of the car class while the defending champion continues to lead the way in the bike class. A local Argentine leads in the quad class and the Dutch vs. Russian battle continues in the truck class.

Sébastien Loeb won stage two of the rally from Resistencia to San Miguel de Tucumán. The Peugeot driver won by a minute and 23 seconds over Toyota's Nasser Al-Attiyah and that was enough to leapfrog Loeb over Al-Attiyah to the top of the overall standings by 28 seconds. Carlos Sainz finished third on the day, two minutes and 18 seconds back and he is a minute and 56 seconds behind his fellow Peugeot driver in the overall standings. Giniel de Villiers finished fourth on the day and is fourth overall, two minutes and five seconds back of Loeb. Nani Roma made it three Toyota drivers in the top five on the day and overall as the Spaniard trails Loeb by two minutes and 56 seconds after two days. 

Yazeed Al-Rajhi is the top Mini driver in sixth overall, five minutes and 12 seconds behind Loeb. Defending Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel finds himself trailing his fellow countryman and Peugeot driver by seven minutes and 26 seconds, placing him seventh overall. Mini's Mikko Hirvonen trails his former World Rally Championship teammate by eight minutes and 49 seconds in eighth place. Toyota's Erik Van Loon and Peugeot's Romain Dumas round out the top ten overall, nine minutes and 36 seconds and nine minutes and 58 seconds back respectively. 

On two wheels, KTM's Toby Price jumped to the top of the overall standings with a stage victory by three minutes and 51 seconds over Honda's Paulo Gonçalves. The Australian's lead over the Portuguese rider in the overall standings is two minutes and 54 seconds. Third on the day was Yamaha's Xavier De Soultrait but he is overcoming a one-minute speeding penalty in the first stage that cost him the stage victory and is fourth overall, three minutes and 41 seconds behind Price. KTM's Sam Sunderland and Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla rounded out the top five on the day but after third and fifth overall, with Sunderland 18 seconds ahead of De Soultrait and Quintanilla trailing the French rider by 45 seconds. 

Ricky Brabec, the lone American in the 2017 Dakar Rally sits sixth overall after two days and is three seconds outside the top five. Brabec finished second on stage one for Honda. He is 16 seconds ahead of KTM's Stefan Svitko. Joan Barreda is five minutes and 32 seconds off Price in eighth-place. Stage one winner Juan Pedrero dropped to ninth overall after stage two and the Sherco TVS rider is six minutes and 46 seconds behind Price. Gerard Farres Guell bookends the top ten overall after two stages for KTM and he is three seconds behind Pedrero for ninth. 

Argentine rider Pablo Copetti won stage two in the quad class and like the other two classes, Copetti's stage win has lifted him to top of his class standings overall. The Yamaha rider leads by four minutes and 20 seconds over stage one winner Marcelos Medeiros, who finished fourth on the day. Frenchman Axel Dutrie finished second on the day and is third overall, five minutes and 41 seconds behind Copetti. Ignacio Casale, the 2014 Dakar Rally winner in the quad class, is fourth after two days, six minutes and 25 seconds back. Paraguayan Nelson Sanabria rounds out the top five trailing Copetti by six minutes and 54 seconds after receiving a five-minute penalty on stage two. 

Martin Van Den Brink won stage two in the truck class and the Renault Trucks driver leads Kamaz's Dmitry Sotnikov by three minutes and nine seconds. Stage one winner Martin Kolomy sits third after stage two with the Tatra driver 3 minutes and 11 seconds back. Defending truck class winner Gerard de Rooy trails his fellow countryman by three minutes and 20 seconds in an Iveco. MAN's Peter Versluis makes it five different manufactures represented in the top five after two stage and is three minutes and 29 seconds back. 

Stage three goes from San Miguel de Tucumán to San Sebastian de Jujuy.