Fernando Alonso still confident of ‘magical’ Dakar Rally stage win in Saudi Arabia despite setbacks

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Fernando Alonso speaks to the press after completing Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally on Monday in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 08 January 2020

Fernando Alonso still confident of ‘magical’ Dakar Rally stage win in Saudi Arabia despite setbacks

  • Confidence was raised when he and co-driver Marc Coma finished fifth in Stage 3
  • Alonso’s pace suggests he might well have challenged nearer the top of the classification

NEOM: Former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso is confident he can still claim what he said would be a “magical” maiden stage win at the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, he said on Tuesday.

The Spaniard’s chances of challenging for the outright victory took a dent when he lost more than two hours to suspension and wheel repairs during Stage 2.

But confidence was raised when he and co-driver Marc Coma finished fifth in Stage 3, only six minutes behind winner Carlos Saint, something Alonso called “very positive,” according to a report from website motorsport.com.

“We had a stage without setbacks, with good visibility — even going back (toward Neom), every car that we were catching had a flat tire or was lost,” Alonso told the website.

“We had a track without cars and without dust. The only setback was in the last part, that we got lost for a bit in a river, we could not find the way.

“(Otherwise) it was a good day that left a good taste.

“Monday was a surprise. The result was negative and losing those hours was not expected, but the sensations were good yesterday and today also, I feel comfortable with the car.

“Seven months ago I had never climbed onto a dune with a car, now to be able to be again among the first four-five for the second consecutive day is a positive note.

“But I always want a little more and hopefully I can take advantage of the good starting position tomorrow or in the next few days to try something else and be among the first three or hopefully win a stage, which would be magical,” he added.

Without the delay on Monday, Alonso’s pace suggests he might well have challenged nearer the top of the classification, but the former Renault, McLaren and Ferrari driver is remaining upbeat.

“We’ve only been here for three days and there’s going to be a lot more drama than we’ve experienced.

“It happened to me yesterday, (Tuesday) we saw (Khalid) Al-Qassimi’s Peugeot that was in pieces, and many more things will happen to many people.

“Let’s hope that the minimum possible will happen to us and that we will reach stage 12 and get the whole experience.

“But if I can find a good pace and visibility on some stage, I hope to make the top three or even get a dream stage win. It seems impossible, but I have more confidence after these two stages,” he added.


NBA star LeBron James opts out of wearing social justice message on Lakers jersey

Updated 12 July 2020

NBA star LeBron James opts out of wearing social justice message on Lakers jersey

  • ‘It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal’
  • But Lakers star still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others

LOS ANGELES: NBA superstar LeBron James said Saturday he would opt out of wearing a social justice message on the back of his jersey because it doesn’t “resonate with his mission.”
James, who has often spoken out against racism and police brutality in America, is passing on the NBA’s plan to help bring attention to racial inequality by having players wear messages like “I Can’t Breathe” instead of their family names.
“I didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward James said Saturday. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed down to all the players.”
“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.”
James says he wishes he had had some input into the jersey change.
“I would have loved to have a say on what would have went on the back of the jersey. I had a couple of things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process which is OK.”
“I don’t need to have something on the back of the jersey for people to understand my mission and what I’m about and what I am here to do.”
The vast majority of NBA players have decided to pick a social justice message when play resumes in Orlando, Florida.
James is one of just about 17 players out of 285 so far who have opted to continue using their family names on the back of their uniforms.
The list of suggested messages, agreed on by the players union and NBA owners and then made available to players, includes “I Can’t Breathe,” which is what George Floyd said more than 20 times before he died with a white police officer kneeling on his neck.
Other messages include: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.
James said even though he isn’t taking part in the jersey messages, he is still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others, especially people in the Black community.
“Being able to use my platform, use the NBA’s platform, to continue to talk about what’s going on. Because I will not stop until I see real change for us in Black America, for African Americans, for people of color. And I also believe I can do both, though.”
James said he always expected to play in the restart to the season: “I am here for one goal and one goal only and that is to win a championship.”