Heavy rains and a swollen
river saw drivers and riders at the Rally Dakar 2017 complete Stage 8 with great
skill. This leg was eventually divided in two parts with a 176-kilometre
liaison at the border between Bolivia and Argentina. Winners included Joan
Barreda of Monster Energy Honda Team (bike category), Sebastien Loeb of Peugeot
(car cateogry), Ignacio Casale of Yamaha (Quad category) and Martin van den
Brink of Renault Trucks (truck category).
Incidentally, the race for
stage 9 has been cancelled owing to weather conditions. All the riders have
been rerouted to an alternative itinerary via San Antonio de los Cobres. The
organisers will regroup the rally in Chilecito to continue the race on January
12, 2017. With all major roads being blocked due to flooding and mud slides,
team crews and competitors eventually reached the Salta bivouac right after
midnight, which forced race organisers to cancel stage nine.
Meanwhile, in stage 8, taking
the vehicles through streams and dunes, the second half of this year’s marathon
stage climbed up to 4,400m of altitude and saw the French battle in the car
category intensify. When leaving Uyuni on the morning of January 10, Stéphane
Peterhansel of Peugeot was the overall leader. The 12-time Dakar winner opened
the road, but had to stop for several minutes after the 110th km, allowing for
a fast and furious Sébastien Loeb to overtake him before the first passage
This is Loeb’s third win since
the start in Asuncion, despite suffering a flat tyre during Stage 8. With
Peterhansel finishing 3'35 behind in Salta, his co-pilot Daniel Elena and him
are the new overall leaders.
In the bike category, Joan
Barreda is the first bike rider to take two stage wins this year, 3'51 ahead of
second-placed Matthias Walkner. The KTM rider only preceded his teammate Sam
Sunderland by three seconds, allowing the Brit to gain on his rivals in the
2014 Dakar winner Ignacio
Casale took the line honours for the first time this year with an impressive
5'39 lead over overall leader Sergey Karyakin (Yamaha). Axel Dutrie (Yamaha) finished
third, 7'16 behind the Chilean rider.
On the truck front, Martin van
den Brink scored his second stage win. The Dutchman beat Iveco's Federico
Villagra by 17 seconds, followed by Eduard Nikolaev in his Kamaz truck. His
fellow Russian Dmitry Sotnikov retook the overall lead.
Motosports Team Rally: After spending six days in the Bolivian Altiplano, the Dakar
Rally commenced its return to Argentina and Hero Motosports Team Rally riders,
Joaquim Rodrigues and C.S. Santosh, continued with their impressive performance
in the eighth stage, which formed the second part of the marathon special. The team
hit an important milestone as Joaquim broke into the top 10 since the start of
the world’s toughest rally in his debut attempt.
As has been the norm in this edition of the
Dakar, the stage from Uyuni to Salta was once again modified because it was
impossible to ford an overflowing river. As a result, the original special of
392 km, was split into two parts and was shortened by 68 km.
But that didn’t prevent
Rodrigues from mounting a serious charge to break into the top 10 on his first
Dakar appearance. Even as more rains rendered the tracks slippery and
treacherous, Rodrigues attacked the course with loads of courage and skill to
string together a stupendous race. The Portuguese rider powered his bike across
the finish of the special stage in 4 hours 44 minutes 57 seconds, just 16
minutes and 36 seconds behind the stage winner. Rodrigues finished the tough
day in 16th place that helped him move into highly commendable 10th place in
the provisional overall classifications.
Santosh, who started the
special in 38th place, also came up with a good ride despite the challenging
riding conditions that forced many of the frontrunners to stop in the middle of
the stage to change their riding goggles and gloves. He completed the timed
section in 47th position with a time of 5 hours 14 minutes 01 second. His
performance in this special stage helped him climb to the 62nd place in the
provisional overall general classifications, up from his overnight 67th
It was also an action-packed
day for the assistance crews, who were travelling from La Paz to Salta. But a
massive landslide about 200 km north of Salta forced both the assistance crews
and the participants to undertake a detour of 150 km through the back roads as
the last liaison was modified by the organisers.
Four MINI remain in the overall top 10: The difficult conditions
meant that there was not much change in positions with most of the MINI family competitors
maintaining their overall position.
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and Michel Perin (FRA) once again secured a 4th
place stage finish in the #303 MINI John Cooper Works Rally car to remain in
5th place in the overall standings.
Just two places behind them in
the stage was the #308 MINI John Cooper Works Rally car of Orlando Terranova
(ARG) and Andreas Schulz (GER). The pairing remained on form with another
consistent performance that saw them maintain 7th position overall. Completing
the top ten in stage finish was fellow MINI John Cooper Works Rally driver
Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA) and co-driver Timo Gottschalk (DEU). Their official overall position is still
subject an appeal. Jakub Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) were in the
first MINI ALL4 Racing car (#316) to complete the stage in 14th. They also held
on to their place in the overall standings in 8th.
The remaining MINI ALL4 Racing
pairings also completed Stage 8 with Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT) and Xavier Panseri
(FRA) finishing in 17th, one place ahead of Boris Garafulic (ARG) and co-driver
Filipe Palmeiro (POR) in the #314 MINI ALL4 Racing car. Sylvio de Barros (BR) and Rafael Capoani (BR)
finished the stage in 20th position, two places in front of Stephan Schott
(GER) and Paulo Fiuza (POR) in 22nd.
Sherco TVS: Pedrero Garcia Juan finished
5th at the end of the two specials of stage 8 which was between Uyuni and Salta.
He finished 6'00 behind the winner. It was a beautiful race for the Sherco
rider who moved up to 20th place overall. Adrien Metge, finished 25th in the
stage at 21'42, and is now in 38th place in the general classification.
Juan raced a great special, he proved that he
is a contender and the bike is working very well. As for Adrien, he got stuck
and wandered off the track. He lost time, but managed to get back on track and
get the bike back.
Sixth For Yamaha Riders: with poor weather conditions playing a major part in stage
eight of the 2017 Dakar Rally, the duo of Yamaha Racing's Adrien Van Beveren
and Xavier de Soultrait reached the end of the two-day-long marathon stage
retaining their strong third and sixth positions respectively in the rally's
provisional overall rankings. Joined at the finish of the stage by Hélder
Rodrigues, the trio of Yamaha riders will continue pushing for even better
results in the remaining stages of this year's Dakar Rally.
Making a cautious start to the
special stage, Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Adrien Van Beveren went on
to post the 11th fastest time of the day. With four stages left to be contested
in this year's Dakar Rally the Frenchman is still holding on to a very strong
third place in the rally's provisional overall standings.Trying to make the
most of his experience in the difficult conditions of today's stage, Hélder
Rodrigues struggled to find a good race pace and had to settle for 18th. The
Portuguese rider is currently 16th in the rally's standings, less than 30
minutes behind the provisional top 10. The WR450F mounted Xavier de Soultrait
was the highest placed Yamaha rider. Involved in some great battles with the
fastest riders of the day, the Frenchman wrapped up the stage in ninth to
retain his impressive sixth place in the provisional overall standings.
With 2014 Dakar Rally champion
Ignacia Casale topping the standings in the Quad class, Yamaha Raport 700R
mounted Russian Sergey Karyakin retains his lead in the provisional standings.
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