Dakar 2021 Stage 8 | Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo puts Honda back on top
Nacho Cornejo has somewhat emerged as a sensation after the Saturday’s rest day finishing Stage 7 in second and now the Stage 8 in the first position. He takes his first stage win at the 2021 Dakar, that too after championing the tricky marathon stages where team assistance was prohibited. Finishing second was Red Bull KTM Factory team’s Toby Price while Cornejo’s teammate Ricky Brabec crossed the line in P3.
122km into the stage, Joan Barreda held a 21 second lead over Price and was 37 seconds ahead of Nacho Cornejo. Soon enough, Price and Cornejo both caught up and passed Barreda and the duo were separated only by a whisker. Towards the end, Corenjo pulled away from Price to take the win, increasing his overall lead from one second to over one minute against his Australian rival after today’s Stage 8.
The Yamaha Rally Team faced another unfortunate result after Ross Branch lost some valuable time yesterday due to an entangled chain. Yamaha’s Argentinean rider Franco Caimi faced an engine issue and wasn’t able to repair it himself, putting him out of Dakar 2021. He wasn’t the only one with no luck on his side. Husqvarna rider Xavier de Soultrait also faced misfortune as he suffered from a nasty fall at the 267km mark of the special. After the crash, he was conscious and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Tabuk for X-Rays.
With today’s rallying done, the marathon stages are over and riders can again benefit from team assistance and outside help if required. The rules had put Toby Price in a tricky situation as his rear tyre got damaged yesterday. With regulations allowing no tyre replacements during the marathon stages, nor any assistance from team mechanics, Price devised a makeshift arrangement by wrapping the damaged area with multiple cable ties and duct tapes. Mid-way through today’s Stage 8 Price discovered that only one of the many cable ties were left on the tyre and wasn’t even sure if he would make it to the end. However, he was fortunate enough and made it through.
Tomorrow is another loop round, stretching over 574km, where competitors shall start and end in Neom, riding along the shore of the Red Sea that promises some scenic vistas and dramatically varying terrain.