South African Gazoo Racing Toyota Hilux star, Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah and Belgian co-driver Matthieu Baumel stormed to Attiyah’s 40th-ever and the duo’s fifth Dakar car day win of 2021. They beat Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz and Stephane Peterhansel and Edouard Boulanger’s Mini buggies on Monday’s eighth stage as Attiyah cut Peterhansel’s overall lead from eight to 5 minutes. Ignacio Cornejo Florimo took the motorcycle race over Toby Price as that pair took the overall lead too.
It was Chilean Honda rider Ignacio Florimo’s first bike stage win of the year, adding to his two previous day wins in 2020 in a 1 minute 5 second victory over double former winner, Aussie Price’s KTM. Californian Ricky Brabec was third on another Honda, ahead of Sam Sunderland‘s KTM, Kevin Benavides and Joan Barreda Bort’s Hondas and KTM duo Daniel Sanders and Mathias Walkner. Flormino moved into a 1 minute 6 second overall lead over Price too.
Price’s hopes of continuing looked under threat with no support crews overnight and competitors left to make their own running repairs. But the two-time winner’s efforts after a massive gash appeared in his rear tyre with no spare available held together for the 375-kilometre timed section between Sakaka and Neom.
“I tried to fix the issue as much as I could. By the time I got to refuel at 229km I was down to one cable left on my rear tyre, the rest had come off. I did my best to keep momentum, not accelerate hard and ride smart.”The Australian explained
His running repairs helped him hold onto second place a minute behind Nacho Cornejo.
“It looks like my bike is beat up but, if you saw the terrain it’s been through, it’s really not that bad. Two days with the same tyres and wheels and no service.”At the end of stage eight, Sunderland said
Dakar debutant Daniel Sanders’s body rather than his bike took a beating following a fall in the dunes but he is fit enough to carry on. As he put it, “I didn’t cut any bones…but the cut needed some stitches.”
Botswana’s Ross Branch came home 11th on his Yamaha, while gentleman compatriot James Alexander was still going strong. Dakar is however taking its toll on the two-wheelers — Xavier de Soultrait was airlifted after he crashed out and Franco Caimi retired after an engine failure. Sunderland now sits third overall, five minutes off the lead, with Benavides, Barreda, Brabec, Howes and Sanders now all over ten minutes adrift. Branch meanwhile picked up a couple of places up to 13th.
In the car class, Qatari Al-Attiyah moved to within five minutes of the race lead with four final days in which to attack. He said:
“We kept the car in one piece which is good because, in some places, we were pushing a lot. We get three minutes back on Stéphane today and we will keep going day by day.”Qatari Al-Attiyah
“In the last 50km, I did one or two mistakes. I didn’t follow the information of my co-driver Edouard and we had to turn around. Here we probably lost one or two minuts. At the end, we’re still in the fight.Peterhansel blamed himself for losing time on his closest rival. He said
Stage runner-up was Carlos Sainz with Cyril Despres in the top five and describing the stage as “one of the top three most beautiful stages on the last 20 Dakars I have done”. Kuba Przygónski was sixth on the stage. Plus, there were mechanical issues for Sébastien Loeb, who spent hours in the desert trying to repair his Hunter BMX.
South African car crews enjoyed a positive day — Shameer Variyawa and Dennis Murphy came home a fine seventh, ahead of Gazoo Toyota Hilux teammates Giniel de Villiers and Alex Haro in 15th. They lost time twice through the day. And Brian Baragwanath and Taye Perry were scything through the field after working late to repair their stricken Century CR6 Corvette overnight and looking good for a possible top ten finish Monday.
Teenager Seth Quintero is in second and within 10 minutes of Austin Jones’ lead in the lightweight vehicles race.
“It’s going to be a long four days but hopefully we can be there at the end.”And the 18-year-old Quintero said
But it was a day to forget for his fellow Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team driver Cristina Gutiérrez, whose gearbox trouble stopped her from starting stage eight. The stage win went to Chaleco López.
In the truck class, Anton Shibalov led home a Russian one-two-three on the stage with Dmitry Sotnikov still in the lead. Meanwhile, former Dakar quad race winner Ignacio Casale enjoyed a top-five finish against his more experienced truck rivals.
The Dakar resumes on Tuesday for a 465km loop around the Neom bivouac against the clock for stage nine.
Overall standings after Stage Eight
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) X-Raid Mini 29h36m49s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Toyota Gazoo +00h04m50s
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP) X-Raid Mini +00h38m55s
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo Honda 32h00m11s
2. Toby Price (AUS) Red Bull KTM +00h01m06s
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR) Red Bull KTM +00h05m57s
1. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz Master 32h34m18s
2. Anton Shibalov (RUS) Kamaz Master +00h43m28s
3. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) Kamaz Master +01h13m15s
1. Austin Jones (USA) Can-Am +36h13m48s
2. Seth Quintero (USA) Red Bull Offroad +00h09m31s
3. F Lopez (CHL) Can-Am +00h19m51s