With proud records to protect at the Dakar Rally there was a growing sense of ‘now or never’ in the bivouac before stage eight. With the finish line fast approaching, big moves were required to upset the balance of the leaderboard. A big move is exactly what took place in the bike race as the Super Ica stage took place at Dakar.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Team arrived in Peru a fortnight ago with a clear mission objective – win their 18th consecutive bike race title. At the conclusion of stage seven their best placed rider Toby Price (AUS) was third overall, behind rivals on Honda and Yamaha machinery. On stage eight the picture changed dramatically.
Race leader Ricky Brabec (USA) saw his Dakar end on stage eight due to a broken engine. Pouncing on the opportunities that presented themselves in the dunes was 2016 Dakar winner Price. Third place on today’s stage has put the Australian at the top of the general classification. A remarkable achievement given that he has been nursing a broken bone in his wrist throughout the rally.
“I knew I had to make today count so I gave my maximum out there. I couldn’t do anymore than I did out there. The wrist is on fire now.” – Toby Price
After getting the better of both Honda and Yamaha rivals today, now Price’s closest competitor is the Husqvarna bike of Pablo Quintanilla (CHI). Quintanilla is just a minute behind Price while the Australian’s KTM team-mates are both five minutes further back as Matthias Walkner (AUT) and Sam Sunderland (GBR) are placed third and fourth overall respectively.
“There’s still two long days to go and everything can happen at the Dakar.” – Sam Sunderland
A crash on stage eight brought the 10th Dakar participation of Stefan Svitko (SVK) to a premature end. The 2016 bike race runner-up was eighth overall when misfortune struck on the Super Ica stage.
In the car race there was a fourth stage win for Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and co-driver Daniel Elena (MON). The duo showed their customary impressive speed over the dunes to get themselves back in the game after a tough stage yesterday. Loeb’s most recent stage win puts him third overall, and just 16 seconds behind Nani Roma (ESP) in second place.
“It was a very good day. Just a puncture in kilometre six where we had to change the wheel was the only big issue.” – Sébastien Loeb
Continuing to lead the car race is Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) and co-driver Mathieu Baumel (FRA). The Toyota crew have been using all their rally-raid knowhow in the second week of the race to consolidate their position at the head of the contest. Al-Attiyah’s lead over Roma stands at 46m29s
“We were surprised when we got the finish line to see that we had increased our lead.” – Nasser Al-Attiyah
It was a tough Super Ica stage for all three X-raid MINI JCW Team drivers: Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Cyril Despres (FRA) and Carlos Sainz (ESP). This trio of multiple Dakar winners all conceded time to their rivals in the Peruvian dunes.
“A difficult, difficult day. We got stuck in the dunes and we couldn’t lift the car with the jack. Then we lost the power steering. I did not have power steering for about 200 kilometres. It was an amazingly tough day.” – Carlos Sainz
Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) was thankful of the big cushion he had previously built up in the truck race today. The Team Kamaz Master trucker got stuck in the same dune section that cost time for Despres and Sainz. Nikolaev ended up conceding nearly an hour as well as his lead to his team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov.
“Crazy day today. Today we got stuck in the sand in a very difficult place. We lost time, 55 minutes.” – Eduard Nikolaev
The astonishing comeback of Chaleco Lopez (CHI) in the SxS/UTV category continues at an electric pace. The Chilean led the race in the first week before tumbling down the rankings after mechanical issues in the dunes before the Rest Day. Now Lopez is back on top and in pole position to win the Dakar on his SxS/UTV debut.
If the competitors still in the race weren’t feeling dizzy enough already, tomorrow’s 313-kilometre loop around the Pisco bivouac may just push a few over the edge. We’re still deep in the Peruvian dunes as the leaders try to hold position, while their rivals launch attacks in the desert.
2019 Dakar Rally Car Race Top 5 (after eight stages of 10)
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT)/Mathieu Baumel (FRA) Toyota 29h15m50s
2. Nani Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro Bravo (ESP) Mini Rally +46m29s
3. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) Peugeot +46m45s
4. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Mini Buggy +53m30s
5. Cyril Despres (FRA) Mini Buggy +02h15m27s
2019 Dakar Rally Bike Race Top 5 (after eight stages of 10)
1. Toby Price (AUS) KTM 28h53m08s
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI) Husqvarna +01m03s
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM +06m35s
4. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM +06m38s
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA) Yamaha +09m54s
2019 Dakar Rally Truck Race Top 5 (after eight stages of 10)
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz 35h01m35s
2. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz +26m49s
3. Gerard De Rooy (NDL) Iveco +01h07m43s
4. Federico Villagra (ARG) Iveco +04h09m27s
5. Siarhei Viazovich (BLR) Maz +06h08m51s
2019 Dakar Rally SxS/UTV Race Top 5 (after eight stages of 10)
1. Chaleco Lopez (CHI) Can-Am 36h16m18s
2. RJ Moreno Piazzoli (CHI) Can-Am +54m10s
3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) Can-Am +01h08m09s
4. Casey Currie (USA) Can-Am +02h03m30s
5. Marcos Baumgart (BRA) Can-Am +02h38m27s
2019 Dakar Rally Quad Race Top 5 (after eight stages of 10)
1. Nicolas Cavigliasso (ARG) Yamaha 36h35m51s
2. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG) Yamaha +01h24m52s
3. Gustavo Gallego (ARG) Yamaha +01h47m49s
4. Alexandre Giroud (FRA) Yamaha +03h31m23s
5. Manuel Andujar (ARG) Yamaha +06h27m22s