Dakar 2017, Stage 7: Brabec leads Honda 1-2 as Week 2 begins

After shortening Stage 5 and cancelling the subsequent run due to poor weather, the Monday test was also modified as it became a combination of the sixth and seventh stages.
Brabec, who started the day in 21st, nearly two hours adrift leader Sam Sunderland, was 1m44s in the clear by the finish.
His closest challenger was Goncalves, the fellow Honda rider gaining one position to eighth … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

F1 debate: is Fernando Alonso right to hail the 2000s as the sport’s most popular era?

Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso has triggered an interesting debate by asserting that the 2000s era of the sport was its most popular and – effectively – the peak.

In a recent interview, the McLaren driver outlined his thoughts on why he ranks that period – during which he won back-to-back titles for Renault in 2005 and 2006 – above the era of the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, another period that many consider to be a golden age for F1.

Giving his thoughts on the earlier era, when the likes of Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell fought for the championship, Alonso said: “Formula 1 at that time, it was very boring. If you see a race now from ’85, ’88 or ’92, you will sleep through the race because it was two McLarens, the fourth guy was lapped and there was 25 seconds between each car.

Ayrton Senna Monaco Grand Prix

“There were 10 cars DNF because the reliability was so-so. Television figures, spectators are going down [in 2016], like it was in these boring years in the ’80s where Senna, Prost and these people were saving fuel, saving tyres and things like that, so it’s exactly the same boring as it was at that time.”

But when talking about the 2000s period, Alonso highlighted the interest in F1 through high TV figures and new races joining the calendar.

He said: “I think Formula 1 grew up a lot. A lot of manufacturers came into Formula 1 in the 2000s – BMW, Toyota, and there were many people coming. Television figures and the spectators were at the maximum.

Fernando Alonso

“We opened Formula 1 to new countries – we raced in Korea, we raced in India, we raced in Singapore, two races in Spain – and that was the maximum. And we didn’t understand that situation, probably. The costs were very high, technology was very high, some manufacturers pulled out.”

During the 2000s era, a several major manufacturers entered the sport as team owners or engine partners and many of the lap records at tracks that have remained on the calendar since 2004 were clinched that season.

Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, who swept the board between 2000 and 2004, dominated the first five seasons of that decade. Then Alonso and Renault won their titles before Ferrari and McLaren fought over the 2007 and 2008 campaigns.

Fernando Alonso 2006

The final season of the 2000s era, 2009, featured a significant regulation change as F1 moved away from high downforce cars and reintroduced slick tyres. It followed the global financial crisis, which caused a number of manufacturers to pull out of the sport.

In the years that followed mid-race refuelling was banned and Pirelli’s high degradation tyres became the control rubber from the start of 2011.

In 2017, and for the first time in a generation, F1 is changing its rules to make the cars faster, not slower for safety reasons. The aim is to improve the show via aggressive-looking cars, lower laptimes and testing conditions for the drivers.

Esteban Gutierrez 2017 tyres

So we’re handing the discussion over to you. What do you think of Alonso’s comments? Was the 2000s the most peak era in F1? Or was the Senna-Prost-Mansell period better supported? And why? Or, conversely, do you think the upcoming season could herald a new shift in popularity for F1?

Please complete the polls above and then leave an explanation of your choice in the comment section below. We’ll collate your comments later in the week and pick out the highlights in an analysis of the discussion.

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Lydden Hill revamp delays led to losing UK Rallycross round, says owner

The Kent circuit will host the British round of World RX for the fourth and final time at the end of May, having returned to the international rallycross calendar in 2009, and hosting a World RX round since the sport gained FIA World status in 2014.
Planning applications to the local authority (Dover District Council) were made in 2015 to upgrade the venue’s infrastructure by building … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

De Villiers: Inaccurate roadbook behind Dakar navigation “lottery”

The roadbook, which maps out the route for competitors, is handed out to participating teams by the organisers in the evening prior to the day of the relevant stage.
For the 2017 edition, the rally’s organisers have targeted an increased focus on navigation – and de Villiers, who was among many to get lost and drop significant time in the first half of the rally, believes the roadbook … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

Peugeot rules out imposing Dakar team orders

At the halfway point of the event, the French manufacturer is in a strong position to win its second consecutive Dakar, with its three remaining factory crews occupying the top three positions.
The Peugeot trio of Stephane Peterhansel, Sebastien Loeb and Cyril Despres are closely-matched in the standings and have a solid gap over all of their rivals bar Toyota’s Nani Roma, who is only … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

Toby Price suffers seizure during Dakar crash recovery

The reigning Dakar bikes winner crashed out of the event on Stage 4, the impact of the shunt breaking his femur in four places.
Following the crash Price was airlifted first to base and then to La Paz in Bolivia, where he was transported by road to hospital.
He has since undergone surgery to repair the broken femur, and currently continues to recover in hospital – although according to … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

Dakar’s marathon stage slashed due to bad weather

Monday’s test, dubbed a ‘marathon stage’ as crews will not be allowed any assistance in the Uyuni bivouac, was originally to feature a 322km timed run.
But recurring rainfall in Bolivia has made running the stage to plan untenable, and the timed section has been shortened as a result.
The Bolivian leg of the 2017 Dakar has been affected greatly by weather conditions, which first forced … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

De Rooy: “We’ve not been the quickest, just the smartest”

Having lost ground early on in the rally, reigning trucks champion de Rooy recovered with two stage wins on the trot on Thursday and Friday, taking over at the helm of the overall classification.
“For sure we were not the quickest over the last two days, but definitely the smartest,” said de Rooy. “We didn’t … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG

Peugeot faltering my “only chance” for Dakar win – Hirvonen

Hirvonen was within striking distance of the car category lead four days in, before navigation woes cost him around 40 minutes in relation to the leaders during Friday’s shortened Tupiza–Oruro test.
Now fifth overall and well adrift of the all-Peugeot top three and fourth-placed Nani Roma (Toyota), Hirvonen says he would need those ahead of him to encounter similar issues.
“It’s 40 … Keep reading http://ift.tt/2i4GMGG