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The second leg and the eighth stage of the Dakar rally from Uyuni to Tupiza saw riders brave high altitude terrain and another barrage of sand dunes. The stage involved a 500km marathon run and some high altitude passes. After stage seven, participants had to leave for stage eight without any technical assistance or support from their crews. No repairs could be made as stage seven and eight constitute marathon stages.
Sherco TVS rider Joan Pedrero finished the stage at 30th position and in overall standings, stands at 20th position. The eighth stage was considerably difficult for Joan Pedrero as he got stuck in the loose mud due to the rains ten kms from the finish. But timely help from the team mechanics got him up and rolling and he subsequently finished the stage on a high.
Meanwhile, CS Santosh, the lone Indian, is progressing steadily and he completed the stage in 38th position, jumping 9 places ahead to 42nd in the overall rankings. But it was a tough stage for him as he crashed a couple of times and the length of the stage demanded every ounce of focus to successfully complete it. Teammate Oriol Mena continued his stellar run in the rally and finished the stage at 14th position and is now 18th in the general classification. KTM too had a good day with rider Antoine Meo finishing the stage at the top and is now sixth in the overall standings. Team mate Toby Price ended the stage in third position in the stage and is in fourth position overall.
The day saw Xavier de Soultrait and Pablo Quintanilla both fall. de Soultrait has subsequently retired from this year’s Dakar leaving van Beveren as the only Yamaha rider left in this year’s event. van Beveren had a quiet day and his advantage over Benavides is now only 22 seconds in the general classification. Barreda, carrying a knee injury from stage seven was the slowest among the top contenders and finished 12 minutes slower than Meo. He has now dropped two places in the general classification to fifth behind the KTM duo Matthias Walkner and Toby Price.
In the cars category, Peugeot driver Stephane Peterhansel with navigator Jean-Paul Cottret finished the stage at the top, taking the third position in the overall standings. Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah finished the stage in third position and clinched the second spot in the overall standings. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz in their Peugeot finished the stage in fifth position but they still are at the top in the overall standings, with a lead of 1 hour and six minutes. However Sainz has been penalised ten minutes for a collision with the quad of Kees Koolen and subsequently his lead over Nasser al- Attiyah is just a tad over 56 minutes now. Sainz has been consistent in this year’s Dakar and has so far avoided any mishaps. Peterhansel, the 13-time Dakar champion must now be rueing his costly crash in stage seven that could very well cost him this year’s championship.
In the quads class, Simon Vitse riding his Yamaha recorded his first victory of Dakar rally, winning the stage while team mates Marcelo Medeiros an Ignacio Casale finished second and third respectively. Ignacio Casale is at the top with a comfortable lead of 1hour and 45 minutes and is now certainly the favourite to win the Dakar this year.
In the trucks category, Russian driver Dmitry Sotnikov in his Kamaz truck clinched the top position in the stage, followed by second position by Federico Villagra from Argentina in his Iveco truck while Airat Mardeev in his Kamaz truck finished third in the stage. Eduard Nikolaev still leads the category in overall rankings with a lead of 46 minutes and 25 seconds.
With Stage nine ( Tupiza to Salta) cancelled due to inclement weather, the convoy now moves by road to Salta for the tenth stage.