Today’s action was originally intended to be a 152km connecting stage, followed by 470km of racing, but for the first time in this year’s event, the weather changed those plans. Heavy overnight rain meant that today’s truck stage was cancelled, whilst the action for all the remaining three categories was ended early due to flooding on several parts of the course.
Bikes: A Painful day for Olivier
The shortened bike category saw Joan Barreda Bort was again emerging victorious as conditions hampered numerous riders. He posted the fastest time from surprise second place man, Johnny Campbell – a former co-driver for Robby Gordon – with Ivan Jakes completing a different looking top three.
However, things started well for Olivier Pain, who held a small advantage after the first 56km. He held a mere two second advantage over Francisco Lopez, whilst yesterday’s stage winner, Kurt Caselli completed the top three, despite initially losing time through a wrong turn.
The lead would change multiple times with numerous riders coming through however, with Frans Verhoeven knocked Pain off the top of the times after the first checkpoint, with Stefan Svitko moving into second. Barreda Bort and Cyril Despres would then come through to snatch the advantage from them!
86km into proceedings, Barreda Bort, Despres and surprise Australian package Ben Grabham completed the top three; before multiple riders began to lose their bearings 188km into the stage.
Barreda Bort was nevertheless able to maintain his advantage to the end, his winning time of two hours and seven minutes being seven minutes faster than Campbell, with Jakes only slightly behind, seven minutes and 57 seconds off the pace.
“It was a good day, because after all the problems over the last few days, my hand feels better and better and I’m starting to ride at ease. I quickly caught up with the leaders, who were backtracking after a navigational mistake, and went flat out from then on, but in the last kilometres it was my turn to make a navigational mistake and David Casteu overtook me. Anyway, I’m happy nevertheless because I navigated quite well and I’m happy to add another stage win to my tally,” today’s stage winner said.
It wasn’t such a good day for the main protagonists at the end however, with Casteu posting the sixth fastest time, and Despres posting the eleventh. Things were worse for Olivier Pain though, who finished a massive 37 minutes off the pace.
The result means that he vacates the overall lead to fellow countryman David Casteu, with Despres moving up to second, nine minutes and 26 seconds off the pace. Pain now moves back down to fifth, sixteen minutes and ten seconds off the pace.
Quads: van Biljon wins at last
After coming close yesterday, Sarel Van Biljon finally took a long overdue stage victory today. He was one minute and 49 seconds faster than long time overall leader Marcos Patronelli.
Yesterday’s stage winner Sebastian Palma initially held the lead, holding a seven second advantage over van Biljon after the first checkpoint, with Ignacio Casale holding third. However, Patronelli would soon snatch the advantage back at the 56km marker, holding a barely believable one second advantage over van Biljon with Palma now dropping back to third, eighteen seconds off the pace.
Things would change again by the next checkpoint 86km into the stage though, with Palma retaking the advantage from van Biljon with Patronelli a further 29 seconds adrift.
Van Biljon was nevertheless able to cling on to take his first stage win, his winning time being just under two and a half hours. Patronelli did nothing to dent his overall lead today and posted the second fastest time, whilst Palma held on to third and was two minutes and 36 seconds off the pace by the end.
“A complicated special which was difficult in the sandy part at the beginning, where we had a nice duel with Marcos Patronelli, but I eventually opened a gap following a navigational mistake on his part… and then I went flat out until the finish. I don’t know if I clawed back a lot of time and I’m far in the overall, but it’s my first Dakar, so I don’t calculate my efforts anyway; I just attack as much as I can and enjoy the race,” a relieved van Biljon said.
Patronelli’s advantage in the overall classification now stands at one hour and 23 minutes over Casale, whilst van Biljon’s stage victory today promotes him to third at the expense of Rafal Sonik. The South African is currently just over two hours behind the run-away leader.
Cars: Chicherit takes his first stage win
Like van Biljon, Guerlain Chicherit came close to winning his first stage yesterday, but eventually did so today as both Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel struggled.
Al-Attiyah once more took the early advantage and posted the fastest time through the first checkpoint 56km into the stage. He was ten seconds faster than Guerlain Chicherit’s SMG, whilst Orlando Terranova once more had a strong run to post the third fastest time at this point.
But Red Bull backed Al-Attiyah would strike back at the next checkpoint, 86km into proceedings. He held a ten second margin over Chicherit, with Robby Gordon moving into third, 24 seconds off the pace. Peterhansel held fourth, a minute and 46 seconds off the pace.
Al-Attiyah would then suffer a delay of no more than two or three minutes 118km into the stage, which was believed to be caused by a navigational error on the Qatari’s behalf. This therefore cost him any chance of posting the fastest time today.
“Everything was going smoothly for us, we were putting the pedal on the metal, and everything was fine. When we got to the river, there were three metres of water; there was no way we could cross that. So we called the organisers, who told us the stage had been neutralised at CP2,” he later said.
Alvarez was another one in difficulties only a few kilometres up the road from Al-Attiyah, as he too suffered a short delay in the tricky conditions.
Chicherit therefore held the lead after 150km, holding an advantage over Terranova, Gordon and Peterhansel. But Peterhansel was suffering a tricky day like Al-Attiyah was, and was therefore some way off the pace.
Chicherit therefore claimed his first stage win, his winning time of one hour and 55 minutes being four minutes faster than Terranova, with Gordon claiming third, five minutes and seventeen seconds off the pace.
Peterhansel was eventually classified in fourth, twelve minutes and fifteen seconds behind Chicherit.
2013 Dakar Rally stage eight results
|1||Joan Barreda Bort||Husqvarna||02:07:26|
|4||Pedro Bianchi Prata||Husqvarna||02:18:36||00:11:10|
|1||Sarel van Biljon||E-ATV||02:28:13|
2013 Dakar Rally overall standings after stage eight
|3||Sarel van Biljon||E-ATV||24:39:04||02:00:29|
Result not yet complete
|1||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||19:26:06|