Al Attiyah bounces back, Loeb bounces


Nasser Al Attiyah has finally brought an end to the Peugeot domination of this 38th Dakar. At the end of a completely crazy stage, the leading Mini triumphed ahead of the two Peugeots driven by Carlos Sainz, 12 seconds behind, and Stéphane Peterhansel, 31 seconds behind. As for Sébastien Loeb, having difficulty in the dunes, he made a wrong move towards the end of the special and drops down the general standings. In the bike race, Toby Price (KTM) enjoyed a twofold triumph, winning the stage and taking command of the general standings.

What a race! What a day! Stage 8 will most certainly be remembered as one of the most hotly contested on this Dakar. Nasser Al Attiyah pulled out all the stops to finally put an end to the domination of the Peugeots on this 38th edition of the Dakar. He claimed his victory right at the end of 393 kilometres of effort. In the lead on the stage from the first CP, the Qatari at one point boasted and advantage of 1’30’’ over Sainz and more than 6 minutes over Peterhansel. Too good to be true? Almost!

Unrelenting behind the wheels of their DKRs, the official Peugeots achieved an outstanding comeback only to just miss out on victory, respectively 12 and 31 seconds behind the title holder’s Mini. The devilish pace at the end of the stage proved to be hellish for the hopes of Sébastien Loeb. Stuck in the dunes at the start of the second section, the leader of the general standings was forced to put the pedal to the metal to catch up, but made a wrong move 20 kilometres from the finish. Fortunately uninjured after an impressive series of rolls, the Loeb-Elena duo are the major losers of the day.

The stage witnessed the return to form of Cyril Despres (Peugeot) with a fourth placed finish, but also the reinvigoration of the Minis and the Toyotas. This will not be reassuring for Stéphane Peterhansel, the new leader of the general standings with an advantage of 2’09’’ over his team-mate Carlos Sainz and 14’43’’ over Al Attiyah (Mini). Having endured engine overheating problems in the sand and camel grass, Peterhansel admits he is not at ease. Is it the truth or just mind games? We should start to find out tomorrow.

In the bike race, Toby Price (KTM) did not pass up the opportunity to make an impression. Having started this morning 3’12 behind the leader of the general standings, Honda’s Paulo Gonçalves, Price triumphed in Belen, 5’17 ahead of the Portuguese rider, taking command of the general standings by 2’05’’. Gonçalves, without his navigation instruments following a crash, managed to limit the damage. Stefan Svitko remains in third place.

As regards Antoine Méo, obliged to open the way, the Frenchman got somewhat lost in the dunes. He lost 11 minutes to his team leader, but it could have been worse and indeed he lies in a respectable sixth in the general standings.

In the quad category, the Patronelli brothers enjoyed another problem free day. Marcos was victorious ahead of Alejandro and South African Brian Baragwanath. In the general standings, the Patronelli brothers remain in command. Alejandro leads Marcos by 2’06’’and Peruvian Alexis Hernandez by more than 30 minutes.

Lastly, the truck special was again won by Gérard De Rooy (Iveco) in front of a Russian duo made up of Nikolaev and Karginov, both driving for Kamaz. Thanks to this victory, the Dutchman takes the lead in the general standings ahead of Eduard Nikolaev, 7'58'' behind, and Pieter Versluis, 13'29’’ behind.