News Notes: The Weekly Roundup
News Notes - my weekly piece summarising the biggest stories in motorsports this week
Welcome to News Notes, a new weekly piece I hope to write, which will summarise the biggest motorsports stories of the past week, in no particular order of course. As always, I welcome feedback and comments at the bottom of this article.
1. Stephane Peterhansel wins record 14th Dakar Rally
Peterhansel pilots his Mini to victory in the Saudi desert (Credit: Red Bull)
The Dakar legend took his 14th rally win, his 5th win of the last five years and his 8th win in the Cars category. Peterhansel piloted his Mini to a record Dakar triumph just over 13 minutes clear of Nasser Al-Attiyah and more than one hour ahead of last year's winner Carlos Sainz. The Frenchman took the overall rally lead on Stage 3 and never looked back.
Peterhansel began his Dakar career all the way back in 1988, racing Yamaha motorbikes before making the switch to cars in '99. Defending winner Carlos Sainz was struck with Car issues in the first few days of the tour, culminating in a broken brake pipe which cost him 22 minutes on the ninth Stage. Despite taking only a single stage win throughout the whole rally, Peterhansel was consistent enough to triumph over Al-Attiyah.
Rally great Sebastian Loeb also participated, but his Dakar adventure was less successful - he retired on Stage 8 after tyre punctures and persistent mechanical issues. Carlos Sainz mounted a late fightback, but his chances of winning hinged on Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel having issues, but although Sainz won the Yanbu-Jeddah stage - it was not enough.
2. McLaren secures option for Formula E entry
Render of the Gen2-EVO car, set to make its racing debut for the 2020-21 season (Credit: Formula E)
McLaren announced that they had secured an entry option on Formula E's Season 9 earlier this week in anticipation of the new Gen 3 era coming for 2021-22. This news comes as a much needed boost to the all-electric racing series following some of it's staple teams announced they would be bowing out of the series.
In the space of two days, Audi and BMW announced that this season would be their last - although the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic was not any of their causes for departing. Audi left to focus on its LMDh car for the World Endurance Championship whereas BMW said they had "exhausted the opportunities" to develop its technology in the Formula E setting.
McLaren chief Zak Brown said the Woking concern is evaluating the potential for a Season 9 entry. McLaren has already been involved in Formula E through its McLaren Applied wing as the battery supplier for the entirety of the Gen 2 era, but will lose this role to Williams' Advanced Engineering for the Gen 3 era. Brown said McLaren had been evaluating Formula E for some time, and this option for an entry gives the team more time to consider before jumping in.
3. DTM's Developments
F1 exile Alex Albon is set to drive a Ferrari in DTM, but that was just one of many storied in DTM (Credit: Sky Sports F1)
I'm going to cheat here and mash a few stories together into a single DTM part. Firstly, it was confirmed that Red Bull juniors Alex Albon and Liam Lawson are confirmed to race in DTM for 2021. Its widely believed that Albon and Lawson are set to drive a Ferrari 488 car in the new-look Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters series.
Audi, McLaren and Mercedes are to field cars in the series for this year, but Albon and Lawson remain the only drivers so far confirmed. The season however, does not start until June, so there is plenty of time for I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed.
Speaking of the season start, the original plan was to commence the season at Russia's Igora Drive, however that was called off this week. Instead of being postponed, the entire event at Igora Drive is cancelled completely. The season will instead start at Monza, before going to the Norisring and then the Lausitzring.
It was also confirmed that Audi drivers Nico Muller and Mike Rockenfeller are to stay in DTM following the announcement that Audi would participate in the new-look GT3 regulations. Audi also hasn't ruled out Robin Frijns' and Jamie Green's participation, whereas Loic Duval rubbished the idea of him racing in a GT3-based DTM series and reigning champion Rene Rast would likely race for Audi full time in their final year of Formula E.
4. Arctic Rally Finland joins 2021 WRC Calendar
Rovanpera and Halttunen race through the snow (Credit: WRC)
Rally Sweden joins Rally GB in being slashed of of the calendar for 2021, as the County Board of Värmland would not allow the rally to go ahead due to public health concerns. Rally Sweden CEO Glenn Olsson said the rising coronavirus cases in Sweden caused tighter restrictions, meaning there was no other alternatives than to cancel the event.
For a short time, WRC had lost its sole snow rally, until it was announced that Finland would hold two rallies - one gravel-based rally in Central Finland, and the other in the snowy landscape of the Arctic circle.
The WRC, FIA and local authorities will evaluate in the coming weeks if a small amount of fans could be present at the race. FIA's rally director Yves Matton spoke to the press recently, saying “we will experience a rally in a region where conditions promise to be optimal for a snow event".
5. In Memory of Pierre Cherpin
Pierre Cherpin 1969-2021 (Credit: Self-made)
In a sobering reminder that motorsports is dangerous, French motorbike rider Pierre Cherpin tragically lost his life following a crash during the Dakar Rally. He was being transferred from a Saudi hospital to his native France by air when he passed away during transit.
It was his fourth Dakar Rally and Cherpin had told reporters he loved riding his bike and participated in the Dakar Rally so he could "see landscapes he otherwise wouldn't be able to".
Organisers paid tribute to the Frenchman, extending the condolences of the whole Dakar caravan to his family, relatives and friends.