Nasser Al-Attiyah has done it again in the 375km loop between Sakaka and Neom on Monday. The Toyota driver won for the fifth time this year to bring his total of Dakar stage wins to 40.
In doing so, he has also regained more than three minutes on his rival Stéphane Peterhansel, making it an excellent day for the Qatari.
Starting fourth on the road, the three-time champion immediately grabbed the lead at the first waypoint from Carlos Sainz and Sunday’s stage winner Saudi Yazeed Al-Rajhi, with Peterhansel sitting 30 seconds behind in fourth place.
After winning the 40th special of his career on the Dakar, Al- Attiyah said: “We tried to do our best from yesterday to today. The marathon day is not easy. I’m really quite happy: My car is in one piece after yesterday and today!
“In some places we really pushed a lot just to keep pace with the buggies. It’s not easy, but I’m quite happy to finish the marathon stage. Today, stage 8 was a great stage for us. We put three minutes into Stéphane.”
With the two-part marathon stage complete, Peterhansel leads the overall standings by a reduced margin of 4m50s from Al-Attiyah, with teammate Sainz now 38m55 behind in third.
During stage seven of the Dakar Rally, the support truck, carrying vital spare parts for both cars, damaged its rear axle, forcing it to become two-wheel drive, the support truck ran out of time to complete the stage and be in a position to provide spare wheels and parts to either Hunter.
As such, a sporting decision was made to provide Nani Roma’s No. 311 Hunter with the majority of the team’s available spare tires, to take on stage eight, and preserve the competitive position within the rally.
During stage eight, Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver, Sebastien Loeb, and co-driver Daniel Elena suffered two punctures to the No. 305 Hunter. Without the necessary number of spare tires to be able to continue, was forced to retire from the stage, and subsequently this year’s Dakar Rally.
In the bike category, defending champion Ricky Brabec won stage 7 Sunday, ahead of Jose Ignacio Cornejo and Skyler Howes, while Aussies Daniel Sanders and Toby Price finished in fifth and seventh respectively. That meant Brabec was opening the stage, adding to the challenge.
Meanwhile in the truck contest, Aliaksei Vishneuski cracked in the last few kilometers to lose seven minutes and hand victory to Anton Shibalov. As if that was not enough, Andrey Karginov and Dmitry Sotnikov have also gained the upper hand over the Belarussian, pushing him off the day’s podium.
Ignacio Casale, the title holder in the quad category, has completed the special in fifth place, which is his best result this year.
It was expected that the battle in the quad category Monday would take place between Giovanni Enrico, Alexandre Giroud and Manuel Andújar, but Romain Dutu has other ideas.
The Frenchman, who ran up against misfortune last year on his first participation in the Dakar, now leads the stage after 190 km, with a lead of more than 2’10’’ over his countryman Giroud. Enrico occupies third place.
Alexandre Giroud has held strong until the end of the day’s special to grab victory. However, the Frenchman only regains 1’12’’ on Manuel Andújar, who has finished second after gaining the upper hand over Giovanni Enrico by merely five seconds! Romain Dutu, who led at the beginning of the stage, has lost more than 22' after 307 km.
Chaleco López once again proved better than the rest by finishing the second part of the marathon stage with the best time. The Chilean pipped Reinaldo Valera at the post in the last few kilometers to grab his fourth victory of the year in the lightweight vehicle.
He also took the advantage of the mechanical problems encountered by Aron Domżała to close in on the top of the general standings. Meanwhile, American Austin Jones trails by more than three minutes. Saleh Al-Saif, second at the start of the special, has lost almost 4’30’’.
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