Dakar Stage 8: Al-Attiyah wins as Loeb hits trouble
Reigning Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah brought Peugeot’s record of six consecutive stage victories in this year’s to event to end by taking a narrow 12 second victory ahead 2010 event winner Carlos Sainz, in yesterday’s mammoth 534 km stage from Salta to Belen in Argentina.
Having been unable to match the speed of the two-wheel drive 2008 DKR buggies during the first week, the first dunes and soft sand played into the hands of the four-wheel drive Mini with the Qatari also jumping up to third in the overall standings.
The big news of the stage however involved the drama that befell overall leader Sebastien Loeb. After virtually dominating the first week by taking three stage victories at his first attempt of the Dakar, the nine times World Rally Champion’s hopes of victory ended when he got stuck after the first control point, before hitting a ditch and rolling 34 km from the finish.
Uninjured, the Frenchman and co-driver Daniel Elena managed to drag their damaged 2008 DKR across the line in 33th place, well over an hour behind Al-Attiyah. The crash has also relegated the pair from first to eighth in the overall standings.
With Sainz’s second place and Loeb’s misfortune, a third place stage finish has seen 11-times Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel inheriting the overall lead with Peugeot still occupying the top two positions. There was further conciliation for the French squad with Cyril Despres clocking the fourth fastest time albeit four min 40 secs off the pace.
Former Subaru, Ford and Citroen WRC driver Mikko Hirvonen continued his impressive showing by crossing the line fifth in his Mini, just over four minutes ahead of teammate Nani Roma. The Spaniard, who lost over 45 min on stage two after getting stuck in deep mud, had been fighting his way back up and leader board with the result seeing him also enter the top ten for the first time.
Mini’s comeback was further boosted with an eighth place finish for Orlando Terrenova, with the local hero, who battled during the first week, edging out Gazoo Team South Africa’s Leeroy Poulter by less than a minute.
Although the flat stages of Argentina were expected to suit the normally aspirated Toyota Hilux entries, Poulter’s teammate Yazeed Alrajhi only managed the ninth quickest time, while getting stuck left Giniel de Villiers down in 15th place, 24 minutes back of Al-Attiyah.
In the motorcycle section, Toby Price took advantage from a mistake by former leader Paulo Goncalves to emerge as the new overall leader.
Struggling to match the Australian’s pace, the Portuguese rider lost over five minutes after a tad too much speed over a sequence of bumps near the end of the stage, flung him from his Honda, fortunately without injuries or much damage.
With teammate Ruben Faria going down before the rest day, Pablo Quintanilla continued as the sole representative for Husqvarna, netting the third fastest time ahead of KTM’s Stefan Svitko and Argentine Honda rookie Kevin Benavides.
Setting off first after taking his maiden Dakar victory on the previous stage, young KTM debutant Antoine Meo got lost shortly after the special began, with the Frenchman dropping almost 11 minutes to cross the line eighth behind the Yamaha of Helder Rodrigues, and KTM mounted Gerard Farrers. Sherco’s Juan Pedrero and French Yamaha newcomer Adrien van Beveren completed the top ten.
Overall, Price now leads Goncalves by just over two minutes with Svitko maintaining his third position ahead of Quintanilla and Benavides.
Meo’s problems sees him remaining sixth and within striking distance of Rodrigues, with Farres and Sherco teammates, Pedrero and Alain Duclos rounding out the top ten.
Today’s stage will see competitors take on a 285 km loop starting and finishing in Belen.
STAGE 8 - OVERALL STANDINGS (CARS)
|1.||Stephane Peterhansel||Jean-Paul Cottret||FRA / FRA||Peugeot||26:01:44|
|2.||Carlos Sainz||Lucas Cruz||ESP / ESP||Peugeot||+00:02:09|
|3.||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Matthieu Baumel||QAT / FRA||Mini||+00:14:43|
|4.||Mikko Hirvonen||Michel Perin||FIN / FRA||Mini||+00:36:42|
|5.||Leeroy Poulter||Rob Howie||RSA / RSA||Toyota||+00:49:33|
|6.||Yazeed Alrajhi||Timo Gottschalk||SAU / GER||Toyota||+00:54:19|
|7.||Giniel de Villiers||Dirk von Zitzewitz||RSA / GER||Toyota||+00:54:49|
|8.||Sebatien Loeb||Daniel Elena||FRA / FRA||Peugeot||+01:05:16|
|9.||Vladimir Vasilyev||Konstantin Zhiltsov||RUS / RUS||Toyota||+01:08:48|
|10.||Nani Roma||Alex Haro||ESP / ESP||Mini||+01:28:21|
STAGE 8 - OVERALL STANDINGS (BIKES)
IMAGE sourced from dakar.com
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